Jackson Pollock and the New Evangelization by Father Stefan

Jackson Pollock and the New Evangelization

On Tuesday I was spend the day at the National Gallery of Art and while in the gift shop I picked up a biography of Jackson Pollock. I found a coffee shop on a street corner in Downtown DC and started to read.

This blog is not meant to be an evaluation of Jackson Pollock’s work as an artist. I am hardly qualified. But I do think his work speaks to our times and has something to say about where we are and how to go forward with a New Evangelization.

Look how much has happened in 60 years. In Oct 1948 a panel of experts from the world of culture were asked  whether, “modern art considered as a whole was a good or bad development.”A vast majority of experts said that modern art was divorced from any moral purpose, “with no ethical or theological references,” (Boynton xi)

It is amazing how different the world is in 2012. I remember being in the Vatican Museum a few years ago and seeing much modern art.

I remember something Cantalamessa, the preacher to Pope Benedict said: that he saw a connection to the emergence of the Holy Spirit and modern art. The Holy Spirit is similar to the unconscious. Much of modern art flow from the unconscious.

One of the characteristics of the modern world is a rejection of the use of reason. We are suspicious of rational arguments. What speaks to modern man is an appeal to the heart, to mystery, to that which can’t be explained in words.

This is what one art expert said commenting on one of his most famous paintings, “When you look at the picture it’s clear that no matter how long it took him to paint this picture, he never thought twice during the whole time he was painting it.”

Pollock’s painting can tell us much of where our culture is.  Pollock began drip painting. In fact he poured paint on the canvas. This image of pouring paint seems to symbolize pouring our emotions onto the canvas.

Isn’t it true that our emotions often defy our reason? Isn’t it true that our emotions often are more in touch with God than our reason?  Pascal would say, “That our heart has reasons that our mind knows nothing about.” One critic said, drip painting, “ are a manifestation of an idea that has been with us since the Burning Bush: the fire that does not consume. Pollock’s painting bears witness to an artist reaching into the fundamentally sacred precinct of existence.” (Boynton 53)

One of the ways that Pollock painted was laying the canvas on the floor and moving around it. If something like a bug or ash from a cigarette fell on the canvas it became part of the work.

This image of using a bug that falls on the canvas speaks to my need to bring even the smallest things that happen to me into my relationship with God. Everything can be used to help use get closer to God.

Everything that happens to us is meant to be part of work of art that God is creating in us.

Again, this blog is not about the merits of Pollock as an artist. I am hardly qualified. But it is true that many critics call him the greatest American Artist.

There must be many reasons why he is so popular. Maybe it is because he speaks to something that we can’t put into words.

It is true that all people have a desire for God. This desire for God is often a desire that they are unaware of.

My last point: I remember an art teacher saying in college if the purpose of painting is to create an exact image of what we are painting then take a photograph.

I enjoyed reading the life of Jackson Pollock yesterday as I sat and drank my cup of coffee on a street corner in Washington DC.

Maybe this book on Jackson Pollock is one of the bugs that fell on my canvas that I can now use in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Maybe one of the reasons that I like these paintings is because my homily notes  look totally unorganized but I understand them. My homily notes resemble his painting.

Love and Prayers

Fr Stefan


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