Keith Mayerson


Young Jackson Pollock, 2019


When Jackson Pollock was in high school, he lived just 8 blocks away from us in Riverside CA. This is from his high school senior portrait, where he was starry-eyed and ambitious, wanting to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers who were into art, but also with his own unique (he was into spirituality, was introduced to the spiritual beliefs of the Theosophical Society and the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti. There is a chapter in the biography by Naifeh and Smith called "Fruits and Nuts," outlining some of his gay experiences, and it seems from his actions and attitudes, my theory is that he also might have been on the spectrum. I think his alcoholism helped him to come out of his shell, and he over compensated for his neurosis by acting super macho, and of course, at the end of his life, when he got into a car accident drunk driving, killing himself and his mistress's girlfriend, was egregious and bad. But as a young man he had real aspirations to break through the ceiling of art and invent something new, and was one of the spiritual centers of the Ab Ex movement, and arguably it was his work that proved to be the greatest inventions of the era, changing art for that time and forever. I was tremendously influenced by him when I was a teen, it was he that showed me the transcendent nature of what are could be, and a fitting end to create this portrait at the end of my residency at the Elaine de Kooning House. Hopefully there is something political about doing a portrait of this giant abstract painter, and like Elaine, creating a picture of man who normally wouldn't allow himself to be regarded in a sensitive way that hopefully shows his romantic aspirations, following Rimbaud, to be a seer.