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Film Festival - Pollock

Wednesday - April 5, 2006
MAC Playhouse - 3:30 pm - 6:15 pm


Hosted by: Dr. Robert Singer, Professor of English
Dr. Eleanor Cory, College Now Humanities Coordinator

About the Movie: Pollock
Director, Ed Harris - Rating R
Who was Jackson Pollock? Was he a tormented genius, raging alcoholic, abusive male, and possibly one of the most important artists in the twentieth century? Why do his paintings still cause so much controversy; is it art, nonsense, or something else? In the film Pollock (2000), directed by and starring Ed Harris, you will experience all of the above and still may wonder who this man was.

About the Presenter: Dr. Eleanor Cory
Dr. Eleanor Cory is a composer whose music is often inspired by art, literature, dance and film. A member of the Kingsborough Department of Communications and Performing Arts, she teaches traditional music theory and appreciation courses as well as a contemporary music/humanities course and interdisciplinary courses with the English Department. She sees film as a dramatic unfolding of events in time analogous to the interactions of instruments in musical compositions, shapes and colors in art, and words in books and poems.

ACT - Prep

Extra Credit Assignments
In the film, Pollock, the viewer saw a brilliant artist suffering from the deleterious effects of alcoholism and mental illness, as well as the effects that this resulting behavior had on other people. Jackson Pollock could be a charming, gifted, but difficult person, and he appears to have been especially abusive to women. Like other talented but troubled people, creative but moody, Pollock's "chaotic, abstract" art, according to some, seems to be generated by his internal conflicts. Some people believe Pollock painted his moodiness and anger. These people do not attempt to excuse his behavior, such as his abusive alcoholic rage, but they try to find a cause for it to understand the art and artist. Accordingly, there are other people who believe that there is no excuse for such outrageous forms of personal cruelty and that Pollock's art and its popular reception are colored by an awareness of his extremely contemptible behavior. They prefer not to patronize museums and exhibits featuring Pollock's art, or to buy reproductions of his paintings because they know what he was like in real life. Great art, according to them, cannot be created by extremely contemptible people, or at least be patronized.

You have been asked to write a letter to the school newspaper in which you will express your view concerning the issue of a proposed exhibit of Pollock's art in the school library. Do you think it is appropriate to exhibit the abstract art of a raging alcoholic, cruelly abusive to other artists and women in particular, or does this matter at all? After all, you are not exhibiting Pollock, only what he created. How does the character of the individual artist (or poet, filmmaker, etc.,) affect your judgment? For example, would you show paintings by well known racists or outspoken sexists? Also, is this style of abstract art "correct" for a high school audience? Does Pollock's esoteric art belong in a high school exhibit? In your letter, discuss your view of these questions about Pollock's art and character, the importance of art to the high school audience, and develop a point of view. Freely quote from others and from the film Pollock.

Mini-Research Project

(NOTE: This is NOT a research paper - it is a research-oriented experience in which students gather information. They can prepare outlines, note-cards, a bibliography, cite references, or practice any combination of these skills associated with preparing a research paper).

Utilizing the library and its resources, and/or material from the Internet, prepare an investigative project that focuses on any one of these topics associated with the film, Pollock:

a) "abstract expressionism"
b) creativity and mental illness
c) artists Lee Krasner and Willem DeKooning
d) the art world today

Standard College Essay

Many issues arise from the analysis and discussion of the film, Pollock. Some of the more important issues involve representing the relationship between mental illness and creativity, the positive and negative effects of celebrity, how the era in which one lives affects his/her work, and how people can successfully or unsuccessfully work together. There are other related personal and social issues arising from the analysis of this film, and these are only some suggested and significant themes to consider.

In a full-length essay (approximately 400-500 words), later to be revised for content and correctness, discuss any of the issues raised in the film Pollock that you consider to be of special interest either for yourself or for society. Feel free to refer to the film or any source of information in your essay. Explain why and how these issues are significant not only in the film but also in relationship to your own life or the lives of other people.

Event Photos Pollock - April 5, 2006


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