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Moving Pictures

The Jackson Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art was a triumph of arrangement, lighting, sight lines, and spatial design. It exerted a fierce grip on the visitor’s subjective passage through the installation, each moment of relative calm and relaxation giving way to a rush of funneling acceleration toward some revelation of spectacular and overwhelming visual impact. And then the cycle would repeat itself, until the dampening close of the installation on the 1953 canvas The Deep, with its covering of smoothly congealed white matter parted, only barely, to allow a glimpse into some indecipherable beyond.

The punctuations in this passage were played for maximal visual drama. Never have the major paintings been so brilliantly lit: The two rarely seen behemoths, the 1943–44 Mural (on loan from the University of Iowa Museum of Art) and the 1952 Blue Poles (from the National Gallery

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