Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jackson Pollock


Jackson Pollock is known to have had homosexual experiences, but their extent and their importance to his work are subject to the varied speculation of biographers and art critics.  One friend from his youth reported that he admitted to having had ‘some homosexual experiences when he was younger’.  These, or some of these, may have taken place during a week he spent riding the rails between Kansas and California in June 1931, when Pollock was in his late teens.  At any rate, a year or two later he met a youth called Peter Busa, who confessed to having been sexually assaulted while riding the rails—whereupon, according to Busa, Pollock seemed to come close to expressing something that had been troubling him, but eventually held back.  Busa commented: ‘I was sure he had had encounters with men … and I think he was troubled by some of those experiences.  He didn’t need anybody to tell him he had homosexual drives’.  Busa also claimed that a man who shared a house with Tennessee Williams once screwed Pollock in the arse when the latter was drunk.  If true, this kind of sexual event seems to have been part of a guilt-ridden pattern.  Drink may always have been involved; and, just as often, anger.  One observer says of Pollock: ‘Certainly there was a dormant gay quality that he resented in himself—he didn’t know how to handle it’.  Another says: ‘Jackson was very up front with Lee [Krasner, his wife] about his homosexual instincts and his fear of them’.  At several points in his life, Pollock associated with circles which were largely gay.  One of these was Peggy Guggenheim’s entourage of young men who had, for various reasons including the obvious, been turned down as ‘undesirable’ for military service in the Second World War.  Guggenheim was widely regarded as a sexual predator who preferred paying court to young men who were homosexual because they might be more likely to go to bed with a middle-aged woman.  (The logic is inscrutable, but let it pass.)  She tried in vain to seduce the writer Alfred Barr; she succeeded in bedding Jackson Pollock just once, but the occasion was otherwise not a success.  Another group of gay men with whom Pollock was briefly associated were those who gathered at the Provincetown studio of the nineteen-year-old Julian Beck, who in his early twenties would found the Living Theater.

Source: Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Jackson Pollock: An American Saga (London: Pimlico, 1992), pp.200, 249, 480, 832, 470-489.

No comments:

Post a Comment