CFS shows “Pollock”

Katie Griffin

The next time you find yourself in a museum, you may find that just by listening to the quietly murmured commentary of the room’s visitors, you can discover which gallery you are in.

Phrases like, “That’s so pretty!” put you in with the Impressionists, most likely in front of a Monet or Degas. If you hear comments about how perfect and realistic the painting is, you’re probably looking at something Neo-classic.

Of course, the easiest to pinpoint is the Expressionist wing. You’ll know you’re in there by the acute silence, interrupted only by the sound of the occasional jaw smacking to the floor.

Jackson Pollock, an Abstract Expressionist painter whose innovative creations mandate that sort of response, is the focus of this week’s Cultural Films and Lecture Series offering, “Pollock.”

Directed by and starring Ed Harris, the film depicts Pollock as he was: an artistic pioneer, a man struggling with bipolar disorder and a self-destructive egomaniac who favored alcohol, cigarettes, and multiple extramarital affairs.

Harris did thorough research to ensure that the complexities of Pollock’s character were revealed in the film. In order to enter into the appropriate mindset, he submerged himself entirely into the role, going so far as to switch to Pollock’s favored brand of cigarettes and even to sleep in the artist’s bed.

Harris also took up painting to understand what motivates or inspires art. His devotion to the role did not go unnoticed; Harris was a contender for an Oscar for Best Actor for his astutely honest portrayal of Pollock’s life, becoming only the fourth self-directed person to be nominated.

Additionally, Marcia Gay Harden won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal of Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, in the film.

Pollock’s turbulent emotions and behavior fueled his explosive style of painting, producing results that rendered viewers speechless. Bypassing traditional artistic methods, he applied the paint to the canvas in unconventional ways: he poured, flicked, flung, slapped and splattered, yielding chaotic, tangled layers of paint.

Despite the attention his innovative paintings stirred, Pollock refussed to accept responsibility for them. Rather, he believed the paintings had a life of their own, and he was simply the catalyst in releasing the paint onto the canvas.

Thus, he felt paint wasn’t something for an artist to manipulate, but a substance full of potential energy waiting to be unleashed. Pollock even claimed that when he was painting, he wasn’t aware of the world going on around him. It was all about him, the paint and the canvas.

“Pollock” will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 p.m., and again at 7 p.m.; and Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students and $5 for all others.

The Monday evening showing will offer an introduction to the film as well as a discussion, “Jack the Dripper,” after the viewing. The discussion will be led by guest speaker Mark Sullivan, a Villanova art history professor and specialist in modern art.