Award winning outback romance

I am excited to announce that Marrying The Rebel Prince, my fun flirty royal romance, is a finalist in the Write Touch Readers’ Award, presented by the Wisconsin Chapter of the Romance Writers of America.  So very very thrilled.

The PM and the painting

I met an old friend at London’s Royal Academy the other day … a friend who caused a million dollar controversy in Australia when I was still at school. I remember it so well.

The ‘friend’ I am referring to is Jackson Pollock’s iconic painting – Blue Poles. Painted in 1952, it was purchased by the National Gallery of Australia in 1973 for the sum of one point three million dollars. At the time that was a world record sum for a painting by a contemporary artist.

Blue Poles (photo from Wikipedia)

Blue Poles (photo from Wikipedia). No photo could ever do it justice. It is teeming with life and energy.

The director of the National Gallery was unable to spend more than £1,000,000 – so approval for the purchase was given by the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. And what a fuss that caused.

Whitlam is, of course, remembered as the Prime Minister who was sacked by the Queen’s Australian Representative in 1975 in the country’s great constitutional crisis. He was the country’s first Labor Prime Minister for more than 20 years and his policies were pretty controversial all round. As was his taste in art. I remember because my father was simply apoplectic at what he called a waste of money on a daub that a four year could have done.

Photo from the Sydney Morning herald of ANG director James Mollison and Prime Minister Whitlam with THAT painting. The PM is the tall one - he was 6ft 4.

Photo from the Sydney Morning herald of gallery director James Mollison and Prime Minister Whitlam with THAT painting. The PM is the tall one – he was 6ft 4.

Everyone said it was a waste of money. Isn’t it strange how wrong ‘everyone’ can be.

The painting is now the highlight of the National Gallery’s collection and is valued at somewhere between 20 and 100 million dollars – depending on who you ask. It’s also a focal point of the current Abstract Expressionist exhibition at the Royal Academy – alongside some wonderful works by Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still and others.

I love Blue Poles. I probably shouldn’t. I was raised with my father’s appreciation of art – in which Monet was considered modern and a bit ‘out there’. But the first time I saw Blue Poles – I quite simply fell in love. There’s such energy and passion and brilliance in it. It teems with life. And no – a four year old couldn’t have done it.

Pollock at work - one of the pictures taken by Hans Namuth

Pollock at work – one of the pictures taken by Hans Namuth

After my first encounter with Blue Poles (or Number 11 as Pollock originally called it), I found more of his work and began to really appreciate it. When I was living in the US, I was privileged to visit his studio on Long Island.

Pollock's Long Island studio

The studio is quite small and plain

The floor of the studio (and the walls too) is covered with paint where he wielded his tools which such passion. I confess, I was a little put out that we were allowed to walk on that floor (albeit with our shoes off and wearing special slippers). In time, our feet will leave their traces – and it would be such a shame to spoil that floor. It said so much about the man who worked there.

The studio floor - I must point out, those are not my feet.

The studio floor – I must point out, those are not my feet.

Pollock struggled much of his life with alcoholism … and died in a car crash while driving drunk on 1956. He was only 44.

This is an older work by Pollock - from the RA exhibition.

This is an older work by Pollock – from the RA exhibition.

 

The range of Pollock’s work even in those few years is astounding. Looking at his early work, there’s nothing to show he would one day paint something like Blue Poles.

I have to wonder what he would have done if he hadn’t died so tragically young.

 

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2 Responses to The PM and the painting

  • A very interesting artist, I agree. But, I doubt he’d have got the reputation he now has if he’d been born female. The current Royal Academy Magazine has an interesting article on how denigrated the art of Pollock’s contemporary, Janet Sobel, was and how her influence of Pollock was deliberately downplayed.

    • You are probably right Elizabeth. Women were very much under represented in the exhibition. There were a couple of works by Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, who was of course quite a renowned artist in her own right. The most prominent of these was her tribute to Pollock, painted after his death. It was by far my favourite of all her works that I have seen.

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