gratuitous image
11 August 1996

Jackson Pollock's Fortieth Deathday

Today is Jackson Pollock's fortieth deathday. He died in 1956 when his convertible overturned and smashed into an embankment in East Hampton, New York. But even four decades later, many questions surrounding his death remain unanswered.

Did his blood make an interesting pattern on the floor of his car or the pavement after it dripped through his clothes? Perhaps a drop or two of blood dripped from a finger--the way his paint once did--to make a trademark splatter on a glass or asphalt canvas.

I wonder if anyone took photographs of the accident. If there are any images of him splattered against the inside of his car, I know I'd certainly like to see them. I can vaguely visualize them: stark, harsh images of the nighttime crash taken with a Speed-Graphic and flashbulbs. I imagine most people are more impressed with all the zeros on the end of the price tags of his paintings than by any images that may exist of his last work.

What did the 44 year old man think in the fraction of a second as he flew through the inside of his car at 50 or 60 or 70 miles an hour? Did he intuitively realize the irony of what was about to happen, and manage to lift the corners of his mouth into the beginning of his last smile--just before he died?

There are more questions. In the seconds following the impact, did he see his last splatterings? If so, did he appreciate them? And most importantly: if he had it to do again, would he do anything differently?

It doesn't really matter to me. I'll tip my glass to you, and purposely let a few drops of wine splatter on my keyboard. Cheers!

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart