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Overall: 221.6 x 161.3 x 150.5 cm (87 1/4 x 63 1/2 x 59 1/4 in.); Head: 51.4 cm (20 1/4 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1987.55.a
© Estate of Robert Arneson / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), the famous Abstract Expressionist painter, is the subject of Robert Arneson's Myth of the Western Man. This work is the largest of a series of 50 sculpted portraits, begun in 1982, in which Arneson explored the complexities of the life, death, art, and myth of Pollock, who died in an automobile accident in 1956. The piece is also part of a larger body of work that pays tribute to artists Arneson admired. Compelling and expressive, the huge portrait depicts Pollock with an unwavering stare that confronts the viewer. Cracks running throughout the ceramic head recall the random, all-over patterns characteristic of Pollock's "drip" compositions, in which he poured and splattered paint directly onto a canvas laid on the floor. Arneson's monumental sculpture sits atop a carved redwood pedestal and a painted platform that is littered with ceramic cigarette butts and bits of paper and paint—all meant to simulate the floor of Pollock's studio.
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