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Jackson Pollock asks "Is this a painting?"

I enjoyed this anecdote recounted by Ann Temkin, Chief Curator of MoMA’s Department of Painting and Sculpture about Jackson Pollock who asked his wife the same question that many of us ask when looking at art, especially abstract, modern, or contemporary pieces.

When he was at his studio in the Springs in Long Island, he asked his wife, Lee Krasner, to come look at what he had done, and he asked her, “ Is this a painting?”—not, is this a good painting, or is this a great painting—he wasn’t even sure [...if] it was a painting. And I think it’s something about operating at the edge of that cliff that is so moving, and still today so breathtaking, about what Pollock and his colleagues were doing. They literally were taking painting to a place that they didn’t even know where they were bringing it….

This makes me feel better and I will think of this moment the next time I gaze at a painting that I’m not quite sure what to do with, interpret, or feel about.