Pollock Confidential

Laurence King. Apr. 2020. 112p. ISBN 9781786276223. $19.99. Rated: Teen+. BIOG
Italian graphic novelist Catacchio (Gaijin!) structures this appreciation of the life and art of painter Jackson Pollock (1912–56) around a CIA scheme to promote abstract expressionism in order to “counteract the cultural influence the Soviet Bloc [had] on western artists and intellectuals” in the late 1940s. The story is narrated by CIA agent Dan Adkins (the CIA operation is factual; Adkins is Catacchio’s invention), as he reflects on the time he spent posing as a college student in order to gain Pollock’s trust after he and his wife, Lee Krasner, fled New York City for Long Island. Adkins is initially unimpressed by the self-destructive, brooding, and unruly “Cowboy of American Art” but changes his mind after learning more about Pollock’s upbringing and approach to creating his paintings. Catacchio weaves biographical detail and quotes from Pollock into the story; a section devoted to explaining the almost hypnotic state Pollock would enter in order to create some of his best-known works is particularly illuminating.
VERDICT Readers looking for an in-depth study of Pollock’s life, work, or inadvertent involvement with the CIA might be disappointed by this somewhat breezy account, but Catacchio’s respect for his subject is clear and ultimately infectious. [Previewed in Douglas Rednour’s “Picture This,” LJ 4/20.]
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