Every once in a while, you come across a book that is so remarkable it challenges all your previous concepts. Night Blue is such a book and so wonderfully written that you want to begin to read it again when finished, for this is the story of the painting of Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock. He said, “The painting has a life of its own” and this is the story told by that painting.
A life begins in a barn in New York, in 1952, when the artist unrolls some Belgian linen five metres by three metres onto the floor. He liked to be able to move around the painting and “Feel he was part of it.” Now the author of this story of the painting takes up the tale. From the smell of the paint to the artists splattered dungarees, a gradual relationship develops. It is a special love story. “His gaze… sought me as one seeks a horizon. To dream into, to orient oneself.”
At the completion of the creation of this work, it was exhibited in New York. There was not much interest in Blue Poles at the time and the painting remembers being removed from its frame and rolled up. It was reframed and sold to a couple who kept it in a dim room where it felt it could die. It was not in physical danger but that is not how a painting lives.
Part two of this tale is written by Alyssa, an art critic and writer. She is fascinated with Pollock and through her own experiences and studies begins to learn about his motivations, lifestyle and his art. Her story is revealing as it unfolds in the political setting of the times.
Whatever your thoughts on the Blue Poles painting this is a story not to be missed. It is the “inside story,” narrated by the painting, and the “Outside story,” narrated by Alyssa. The lyrical writing is a joy to read, and is the crown on a wonderful tale.