☛ The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Today’s Program: Jackson Pollock, “Lavender Mist”, 1950” by Ilene Segalove, collage of offset lithographs, 35.6 x 43.2 cm (14 x 17 in.), 1973. Accession Number: 2011.114. Hi-res photo taken at The MET, June 2012 (CC-BY-NC-ND).
Curator and writer Jessica Brier shared the following comment about this specific collage:
Unexpectedly, Ilene Segalove’s Today’s Program: Jackson Pollock, “Lavender Mist” (1974) acts as a perfect foil to Tansey’s Innocent Eye Test. A lesser-known contemporary of Ed Ruscha, Ilene Segalove juxtaposed found photographs with her own, often using seriality to illuminate absurd tropes in advertising, media, and daily life. Here again, the inside joke is found in the act of looking as subject, this time in one of Segalove’s conceptual photographs. Segalove has constructed a fictitious scene in which airplane passengers look intently toward what would typically be a movie screen at the front of the cabin—replaced instead by a Jackson Pollock painting. (Art Practical, issue 3.4: “The Cheese Stands Alone: The Trouble with Funny” by Jessica Brier, Fall 2011)
Besides being funny and being a statement on “the impossibility of sustained viewing” as Jessica Brier explains in the rest of her comment, one could see in this collage a comment about the limits of representation, or the unrepresentable. In Segalove’s airplane, time seems to be suspended (or “out of joint”), maybe because the painting is in color (and seems more vivid) while the photo is in black and white. Everything seems to be frozen, except for the vibrating drips of Jackson Pollock’s painting. There was most likely supposed to be a movie screen hanging there, instead of a painting showing abstract patterns (the painting was cropped in the collage –only the upper half of Pollock’s painting is showing– likely to fit the proportion of the original screen in the airplane photo). The process of distraction ―the spectacle– was interrupted and replace by something else, something that is both more alive and more obfuscated.
I found this biography of Ilene Segalove at the Andrea Rosen Gallery:
Ilene Segalove (b. 1950, Los Angeles) received her M.A. from Loyola University in 1975, and was also an active artist at Cal Arts. She began working in video in 1972, and also exhibited photography, collage, and later produced audio programs for National Public Radio. Her work has been consistently included in major group exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney through out her career. The Laguna Arts Museum organized a traveling solo exhibition in 1990, and more recently she has had two solo exhibitions with Tom Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles (2009 and 2010). Her work can be found in the public collections of the Getty Museum of Art, LA; the Hammer Museum, LA; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Jewish Museum, NY, among others. Ilene lives and works in Santa Barbara, California.
The Jackson Pollock painting depicted in Segalove collage is currently on view at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C (East Bldg, Concourse Gallery 29H). Here’s how the NGA presents the painting on their website:
Number 1 (Lavender Mist), one of Pollock’s most important “drip” paintings, attests to the artist’s pure virtuosity of paint handling. One can trace his rhythmic movements in the long arcs, staccato dribbles, or coagulated pools of color that accrue into a rich, shimmering interlace. With only a few hues he achieved a soft tonal effect, not by the actual use of lavender but with aluminum and salmon-colored paint. The weave of long black and white strokes implies an inherent linear structure, but the “allover” composition exhibits an even density throughout, with no discernible focal points. Pollock, who spoke of being “in” his paintings, left very literal traces of his presence in the multiple handprints at the upper edges of the canvas.
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