By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
From an almost diametrically opposite polemical position comes Who the Fuck Is Jackson Pollock? — a documentary from 2006 by former 60 Minutes producer Harry Moses that’s been on video shelves a couple of months. Who the Fuck is uncannily similar to My Kid, with its story arc of an unlikely protagonist whose incorrect abstract paintings demand comeuppance. But instead of My Kid’s narcissistic self-appointment as the vehicle of correction, Who the Fuck maintains a posture of impartiality, even as it is inexorably drawn into the role of advocacy by the facts of the story.
Marshaling a wealth of forensic evidence against the mind-boggling self-importance of ex-curator Thomas Hoving (who can’t even be bothered to come up with an argument other than, “Scientists are very interesting, but they come after the connoisseurs”), Who the Fuck culminates in an eerily familiar side-by-side visual comparison of details from Horton’s thrift store find with a bona fide Pollock. This time I see it. The fingerprint match between her canvas and a paint can preserved in Pollock’s studio doesn’t hurt either. Give that granny her $50 million.
Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Unlike the relatively benign portrayal of the easily duped, well-meaning art community in My Kid, the conflict in Who the Fuck pivots on the use of art objects as nearly arbitrary receptacles for the binding (and unsupervised exchange) of enormous amounts of capital, away from the grubby paws of working-class trailer trash. Another question might be “Who the fuck really thinks a Jackson Pollock painting is worth $140 million?” I mean, I love the dude, but do you know how many condoms that would buy? Or vaccinations? Or bicycle-powered water pumps?
Ultimately, both films are compelling revelations — though not necessarily regarding their ostensible subjects. What comes across most strongly is the intensity and complexity of emotions that can still be stirred up by abstract painting, the tiny amount of persuasion that’s required to pass oneself off as an “expert” in the field, and how far we’ve come since Kandinsky wrote that “art is not a vague production, transitory and isolated, but a power which must be directed to the improvement and refinement of the human soul.”
MY KID COULD PAINT THAT| Directed by AMIR BAR-LEV | Sony Pictures Classics | Citywide
WHO THE FUCK IS JACKSON POLLOCK? | Directed by HARRY MOSES | New Line Home Video