Did This Psychoanalytical Cult Kill Jackson Pollock?

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In the 1950s, a quasi-psychoanalytical organization called the Sullivan Institute began to gain a following among the intellectuals and creatives of NYC. The Sullivanians argued that nuclear family and emotional attachments were destructive to human nature and encouraged communal living and free love. Among the first big names to fall for the Sullivanian theory was the art critic Clement Greenberg, who introduced to it dozens of artists, including Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Pollock died in a car crash less than a year after joining. Some cult experts and historians believe that the cult was at least partially responsible for his death.

The world-famous Abstract Expressionist artist Jackson Pollock became the embodiment of the myth about the great male artist. A difficult character prone to addictions and violent outbursts who created something intellectually unavailable to the crowd, he turned into an archetypal character similar to Pablo Picasso. Pollock started to drink heavily as a teenager to cope with his anger, sadness, and social awkwardness. His father was also a violent alcoholic, and the childhood memories of his behavior left a deep mark on Pollock’s psyche. Neglected as a child, he never developed a sense of home and safety and carried the anxiety throughout his entire life.

Over the years, the issues became worse. Pollock started getting into fights in bars, harassed women, and broke glass with his bare hands, later mimicking his drip paintings with his blood on cafe tables. His marriage to another outstanding artist, Lee Krasner, did not help. While Krasner had to abandon her artistic pursuits to care for Pollock’s well-being and manage his career, she could not stop him from drinking. Several times, the couple’s friends suggested psychotherapy to them. According to some historians, one of these attempts contributed to his untimely death in 1956.

Content retrieved from: https://www.thecollector.com/psychoanalytical-cult-killed-jackson-pollock/.

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