Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Venezia, Mike. Jackson Pollack.

Venezia, Mike.  Jackson Pollack. (Rev. ed)  Scholastic/Childrens Press  2017           32p      $29.00 ISBN 978-0-531-22191-4     elem/ms  Biography        VG-BNs       

What is most fascinating about this Pollock biography is author Mike Venezia’s attempt to judge the art without bias, not an easy feat with art in the abstract category.  Of course, he fails in this attempt, but readers will forgive him because he combines playful, creative cartoon-like images with typical biographical data, hoping to interest young readers in art.  Venezia successfully shows the beauty of Pollock’s paintings while at the same time he points out the criticism of his abstracts. He covers Jackson’s early life, showing how he painted using any old things that were around the house.  The reader learns about Jackson’s talented brothers, the family’s moves around the western part of the U. S., and Native American influences in his paintings.  In the next stage of Pollock’s life, post high school, Venezia discusses Benton’s influence over him.  In this period, Pollock was dissatisfied with his creations, and his dark side appeared.  His teachers were undeterred by this dark side, however, and continued to try to help him.  Highly influenced by Orozco and Picasso, Pollock put together a style that made people begin to notice.  Finally, his signature style consumed him, consisting of works characterized by a lack of symbols and shapes, painted with drips and splatters all over huge canvases, and although these paintings were not immediately sold, they withstood the test of time.  Venezia does offer the reader the possibility that anyone could throw paint around and paint a Pollock design.  Bias comes through, however, when Venezia closes the book with his opinion that Pollock’s work is very exciting, with the feelings evoked by its “color, movement and energy.” 

The strength of this series, as mentioned above, lies in its unique combination of the serious and the playful, the authentic and the created, and the detailed and the simple.  If the writer’s purpose is to inspire children to read, Venezia will achieve this goal easily.          

Summary: This book covers Pollock’s interesting life growing up out west, moving from ranch to ranch with his family, followed by a move to New York to take art classes and ending with his unusual development as an artist.    

Jackson Pollock-Biography, Jackson Pollock-Art                                         —Martha Squaresky

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