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Jackson Pollock: An American Saga
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Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  617 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Based on family letters and documents, lengthy interviews with his widow, Lee Krasner, as well as his psychologists and psychoanalysts, this book explodes the myths surrounding his death in 1956. 12 color and 175 black-and-white photos and reproductions.

From Publishers Weekly
Reading this massive, richly satisfying biography of the expressionist painter, one is awestruck th
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Paperback, 934 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Woodward/White, Incorporated (first published December 12th 1988)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,466)
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Tommy Bat-Blog Brookshire
I've always liked Jackson Pollock's paintings but never really knew that much about him personally. Well, OK, I knew he was an angry drunk & a nice guy when sober. I knew he had major fame after a Life Magazine article about him. I knew most of his work. I even knew he died in a car accident. But this book follows his entire life with heavy detail and it gives you great insight into both his psyche AND art ideas. His work is a lot more than just dripping paint on canvas. I read this book as ...more
Kristina
If you want to know everything there is to know about Jackson Pollock, I highly recommend this book. The movie was based on this book. Pollock's life was researched extensively for this book and there is much more detail than I had wanted, but it's over 800 pages, so what did I expect? It's a fascinating, engrossing read of a complex, troubled man. I recently saw one of his large paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and it's amazing. Well-written, incredible book about an amazing American ...more
Kim
Aug 07, 2008 Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists and designers
One of the best artist biographies I've ever read. What can I say? I love sullen, abusive, self-hating, inarticulate, drunken visionaries who, despite their many personality flaws, changed the course of modern art forever. It just goes to show that good connections and lucky breaks paved the way to creating the illusion that he was a brilliant artist. Makes me wish I knew Peggy Guggenheim.
Ed Smiley
This is a very good and well-researched biography of an extraordinary man and artist.

Pollock was notorious for reticence in expressing himself in words, other than short cryptic utterances, because they never seemed to say the full truth, although he could talk clearly and simply about art when he was comfortable with doing so. He was a man in a great deal of pain, and experienced the world in ways that cut him off from others; the authors suggest that he saw the world in a flashing ever-changi
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Greta
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David
This brilliant biography is about much more than just the life of Jackson Pollock (although that's a sufficiently worthy subject in its own right). It also touches on the complex relationship between art and art criticism, particularly Clement Greenberg and how pushed and prodded Pollock into the art hero he so desperately wanted to write about.

It's also about families, the great depression, socialism, surrealism, the shift of the intellectual and cultural center of gravity from Paris to NYC, L
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Dave Holcomb
I'm not a huge Jackson Pollock fan -- this book, for me, was just part of a broader exploration of twentieth-century art. That said, this is probably one of the best biographies I've read in many years.

Most "celebrity" bios tend to portray their subject either as a saint or a demon -- our culture loves to put its most prominent members on pedestals, and loves even more to knock them off and spit on them. These authors manage to stay on the narrow, rocky path of objectivity throughout, presentin
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Caroline
I got so wrapped up in this book, it was like reading fiction. I had such emotion, anger and sympathy, mostly anger, for Jackson and Lee. Highly recommended if you want to know more about Pollock and/or modern art. I just wish there was a final chapter that recapped his life, commented on his legacy, and maybe even attempted to answer that question: Is he the greatest American painter?
Matthew
A very well-written and thoroughly researched biography of a bewilderingly self-destructive artist. The authors did a great job of putting Pollock in the context of 20th century American painting. It's a door-stopper of a book but worth the effort.
Mark
Jackson Pollock maintained that nothing in his paintings was accidental: every swirl and splatter was an expression of his deepest self.

According to this thoroughly researched and well written biography, Jackson Pollock was a semi-illiterate, macho posturing, boastful, jealous, violently mean drunk.
Holly
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it was so rich and well-researched. I picked it up because I wasn't a huge Pollock fan, and wanted to know more about him. I didn't bargain on what an interesting read this would turn out to be! Not only does the author provide insight into the artistic milieu of Pollock's time, he is also provides contextual depth via contemporary historic and political events. I felt like I was learning all about American history (European emigration to US, the Public Works pr ...more
Gary Christensen
Aug 15, 2008 Gary Christensen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Frustrated Freudians
There's a pretty good argument that this book did damage to our understanding of Action Jackson. I think it went a little far. It's the source of the famous "pee" observation, where Jackson's observation of peeing in dust was credited as the source of his painting technique, and was suggestive of latent homosexuality. It was mentioned that Pollock peed in a fireplace, as well. I'd hate to see what someone would read into my varied urinary adventures...

I've known Ruth Kligman (Pollock's anti-hero
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Nathan Ward
Nowhere near my favorite artist, but this biography was a compelling read that made me somewhat appreciate his work.
Steve Troy
Must read for anyone trying to understand Pollock. I read This book about 1 year before i visited the Pollock house in the Springs(Long Island) and the writing was so good so vivid that when i stepped into Jackson's studio I had literally been there before. Obviously this book has more praise than i can heap upon it it but I felt I would add my bit. As an aside if you ever have a chance to visit the Pollock house it is an amazing experience, it is such a wonderful feeling to sit and stare at the ...more
Winter Rose
Well Researched!
Randi
Currently about 1/2 way through the book - not sure I am liking the section he wrote on Lee Krasner here - feels very misogynistic to me. Describes her as ugly etc. I do like to insight into his life before he became an artist, very eye-opening.

Finally finished this book - too long I think - although interesting details about his early life, before he became famous.
Claire
Very in depth. I enjoyed most of it, but about three quarters of the way through the 900 plus pages, his self destruction becomes very hard to take. I wished he'd just off himself and end his misery as well as the misery he inflicted upon everyone with whom he came into contact.
Matthew Jackson
A very brilliant, well-research biography. There were some things left out, which I guess it to be expected when you're talking about one of the most reclusive creative personalities of his time, but it's the stuff they didn't write about that kept me from giving this five stars.
Lori
This is great big interesting book as much about American history & myth as it is about Pollock. I like this book more than his Art. It has been around a while but is one of the better written sagas of an Artist's life as I've ever had pleasure to read.
Wayne
One of the best artist biographies because of the exhaustive research. It's 800 pages long, there's little you will not learn about Pollock's background. That said, the story is of a miserable life, both Pollock and Krasner, but also of his larger family.
Burd
The best biography I've ever read. Despite it being very lengthy and some of it perhaps based only on speculation, it was a fascinating and entertaining read which greatly enhanced my appreciation of this master of modern impressionism.
Danielle St Martin
I highly recommend this book. I found it fascinating. I have always loved Jackson Pollock's art but to read such an in depth study of his life, his feelings, his history. I absolutely loved this book from beginning to end.
Stephanie
This book really helped me understand that artist, and gave me comfort in knowing I'm not the only "artist" who suffers my own art and who struggles to produce. I always want to go back and re-read this book again.
Sara
What an amazing artist. I have always admired his work and now to know what was inside I credit and at the same time feel compassion for individuals that have the genus and the pressure they feel.
Renee
loved it, especially the first few chapters about the origin of the family, and the saga of the family's track out west. Also the true love story, between Jackson and Lee
joshua
i read half the book. put it down. picked it up again two years later and finished it. a sprawling narrative about american art & its most beloved tortured wreck.
Natalie Lovejoy


It was slightly boring to read in the beginning... Once past the family bio the reading was smoother... I did not enjoy the style of writing
R.Friend
The best thing about working at the Smithsonian... getting to read this for about 2 hours a day on the train. The definitive Pollock biography.
Jc Olsen
Great biography. Great paintings. Can't like the guy.
Mark
Very in depth. Did you want to know about his great great grandparents? Well, too fucking bad... it's covered in the first 200 pages.
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