American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory
Perhaps no aspect of Jackson Pollock's oeuvre—one of the most important American artists of the twentieth century—has been more misunderstood than the drawings Pollock created during Jungian psychoanalysis sessions from 1939–40. Presented to his psychotherapist, where they remained in private files for almost three decades until their publication in 1970, these drawings have been shrouded in both personal and art-historical controversy—from a lawsuit filed by Pollock's widow, Lee Krasner, to wide-ranging justifications of them as Jungian iconography or as "proof" of Pollock's supposed mental disorder.
Published in conjunction with an exhibition touring the United States, this book draws together sixty–nine drawings and one gouache, beautifully reproduced in accurate color for the first time. The images reveal a range of styles, from highly refined and elaborate sketches to rapid and automatic improvisations, as well as a range of subjects, from human figures, animals, and cryptic figures to purely abstract forms. Together, they bear witness to Pollock's intense interest in the latest contemporary art as well as non-Western traditions.
Art historian Claude Cernuschi's essay addresses key historical and interpretive questions surrounding these drawings: what was their intended purpose?; do they have particular psychoanalytic importance? what is the relationship between psychoanalysis and art? Ultimately, Cernuschi argues for the importance of reintegrating these works into their rightly held place in Pollock's oeurve. Remarkable for their beauty as well as spontaneity, these drawings reflect the conscious intellectual choice of an artist blazing new trails.