365 Days of Art: November 25 – Namuth Films Pollock; Pollock Spirals Downward

November 25, 1950

Photographer Hans Namuth films Jackson Pollock painting on glass, in order to capture, from below, the particular beauty of paint falling in the “action painting” or Abstract Expressionist style, and the “dance” that Pollock executes around a painting.

This day’s shooting is the culmination of a months-long project by Namuth to portray Pollock and his process; it begins as a still photo shoot, which leads to more, then a short film, then finally shooting from underneath the glass to simultaneously capture the painter and painting.

Pollock has become silently frustrated by the process, especially the many takes for the camera, which is at odd with the spontaneity he thrives on. When Namuth finishes filming, Pollock goes inside the house and pours himself a bourbon, his first drink in two years. That one is followed by several more. His wife, Lee Krasner, has set the table for dinner guests, and Pollock furiously turns the whole thing over onto the floor, with the dogs famously tearing into the meat and gravy while Krasner stoically announces that coffee will be served in the next room.

From this point, Pollock never stops drinking until he kills himself and his girlfriend’s friend in a drunk driving accident six year later.