Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, copyright 1959 UIMA
Three UIMA staff members give their responses to the theory here on the UIMA "Art Matters" blog:
"Jackson Pollock wrote his name on Mural once, in the bottom left corner. He dated it, too. One of the significant aspects of Pollock’s Mural is the fact that it doesn’t reference the physical, external world. Many claim to see the human form, people dancing or some sort of stampede; the stampede imagery is derived from a quote by Pollock himself, but he was speaking metaphorically. Whatever people see, or think they see, says more about them than the Pollock masterpiece, and it seems to serve as an upscale Rorschach test for some. Like all great works of art, Mural takes time to reveal itself to the viewer. To turn it into a “circle-a-word” puzzle that you can find in any newspaper is to do a disservice to the work, as well as yourself."
"People seem to be uncomfortable looking at abstract art without trying to impose literal images on its surface. Pollock himself called the painting a herd of thundering animals—but we are pretty sure he meant this metaphorically. For me, I just can’t see the painting being about his name. And, I think that limits the painting’s possibilities. It is for me a limitless, all-encompassing image that completely envelops you as you look at it—I like the feeling of being submerged in the painted surface and have no need to try to find quantifiable images."
"(The theory) is reflective, I think, of what people think about when they look at that painting. Maybe some people think it's there for some reason and they are driven to find something that's literal to them, to make sense of it...I'm not going to say that it's completely out of the question."
You can read The Gazette's recent coverage of the question here:
The debate continues on the UIMA's Facebook page. Contribute to the discussion by adding "Iowa Art" as a friend and commenting there or posting your comments here on the blog.
You can see Mural to decide for yourself in the exhibit, A Legacy for Iowa: Pollock's Mural and Modern Masterworks from the University of Iowa Museum of Art, on display at the Figge Art Museum, 225 West Second St., Davenport, Iowa until Dec. 31.
--Claire Lekwa, UIMA Marketing and Media Assistant