October 25, 2008

Pollock inspired by shamanism

Jackson Pollock and the Native American unconsciousUntil now, Pollock’s fascination with Amerindian art and rituals and their influence on his work has not been studied seriously. But this has changed with the exhibition "Pollock and Shamanism" at the Pinacothèque de Paris.

Art historian Stephen Polcari is the exhibition's curator. He says that Pollock, like the Surrealists, was known to be keenly interested in anything related to the unconscious. He believed the origins of art stemmed from the unconscious.

Polcari explains that during the 1930s and 1940s, the unconscious was considered a thinking process that involved a "primitive" reflex that could still be found in non-western peoples.

"Shamanism in American Indian culture is thought to be closer to the unconscious. It was a very big idea at the time", he says. "If you want to do the unconscious, you do primitive. And so Pollock did a lot of quote, unquote, 'primitive', using Shamanism to address the idea of the unconscious."
Comment:  Actually, Pollock's interest in Indians goes much deeper than this article indicates. See Indians Inspired Pollock for details.

Below:  "Birth" and an untitled painting in the equine series--by Jackson Pollock.


gaZelbe said...

"Shamanism" is one of those words that seems like its only purpose is to elevate the major "world" religions above those practiced by smaller groups of people, and perhaps more accurately those religions which are newer to Europeans.

Specifically in relation to NA religions and commonly the NAC, I've never seen a definition of "shamanism" that didn't also perfectly describe Christianity.

"Shamanism" seems like a word that deserves imminent obsolescence.

dmarks said...

It does tend to oversimplify things and gloss over the differences in very different believe systems, doesn't it?