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Nationalizing Abject American Artists: Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Nationalizing Abject American Artists: Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Jean-Michel Basquiat By Julie Codell cross all types of artists' biopics--whether Hollywood or independent or European art films--artists are represented as abject figures. Their abjection takes many forms: extreme poverty, sexual licentiousness, drinking, drugs, and anti-social behavior. These films imply a link between abjection and creativity that generates a conflict between artistic creativity identified with unrestrained behavior and the art world of dealers, critics, and exhibitions defined by economic success and social restraint. Unable to fit into the social order of their own art world, artists are even less likely to be portrayed as representatives of national character. In the cases of Jackson Pollock (1912­1956) and Lee Krasner (1908­1984) in Pollock (2000, dir. Ed Harris, who also played Pollock) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960­1988) in Basquiat (1996, dir. artist Julian Schnabel), I argue that Pollock's and Basquiat's biopic representations, among the most abject in films, are obstacles to national identity, which are partly overcome for Pollock but not for Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright). I consider the character of Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden) in Pollock in the context of gendered national identity and the possibilities of artists' socialization. In films artists' contributions to national identity appear possible only at the psychological expense http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png a/b: Auto/Biography Studies Autobiography Society, Inc.

Nationalizing Abject American Artists: Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Jean-Michel Basquiat

a/b: Auto/Biography Studies , Volume 26 (1) – May 5, 2011

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Publisher
Autobiography Society, Inc.
Copyright
Copyright © Autobiography Society, Inc.
ISSN
2151-7290
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Abstract

By Julie Codell cross all types of artists' biopics--whether Hollywood or independent or European art films--artists are represented as abject figures. Their abjection takes many forms: extreme poverty, sexual licentiousness, drinking, drugs, and anti-social behavior. These films imply a link between abjection and creativity that generates a conflict between artistic creativity identified with unrestrained behavior and the art world of dealers, critics, and exhibitions defined by economic success and social restraint. Unable to fit into the social order of their own art world, artists are even less likely to be portrayed as representatives of national character. In the cases of Jackson Pollock (1912­1956) and Lee Krasner (1908­1984) in Pollock (2000, dir. Ed Harris, who also played Pollock) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960­1988) in Basquiat (1996, dir. artist Julian Schnabel), I argue that Pollock's and Basquiat's biopic representations, among the most abject in films, are obstacles to national identity, which are partly overcome for Pollock but not for Basquiat (Jeffrey Wright). I consider the character of Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden) in Pollock in the context of gendered national identity and the possibilities of artists' socialization. In films artists' contributions to national identity appear possible only at the psychological expense

Journal

a/b: Auto/Biography StudiesAutobiography Society, Inc.

Published: May 5, 2011

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