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On Sat, 20 Feb 1999, Mark Brandau wrote:
> As artists and educators, we should be excited that the government is
> willing to honor one of the premier players of America's defining modern
> art movement. So what if they decided that it would be better to show him
> without his cigarette! Maybe they could have found another photo without
> him smoking. Maybe not. Perhaps this is the perfect image, except for the
> fact that he has a cigarette. Who really cares if they airbrush it out? I
> certainly don't. I find it a bit humorous, in fact. Please remember that
> this is just a cigarette - not part of his painting or a physical feature
> of Pollock himself. Please do not respond with a barrage of "what if"s.
> If it were something other than his cigarette on a postage stamp, maybe
> this would be worth discussing. I also doubt that by airbrushing out
> Pollock's cigarette, we are opening the door for all sorts of censorship.
> I don't think of it as censorship, but rather concern for not advertising
> smoking on a postage stamp. I'll support that.
> Most of us know that Pollock had vices, but the stamp is not about
> showcasing them - it is about showcasing his process for creating art. I
> am excited that they decided to use an image of Pollock in action. After
> all, it was action painting, and the painting itself merely serves as a
> record of his actions. The removal of his cigarette doesn't change the
> action which created the image. Does it manipulate our perception of
> history? Well, only if you are adamant that Pollock was incapable of
> painting without a cigarette in his hand or mouth and if your only source
> of art history is a postage stamp.
> I consider this issue something akin to a "little white lie." Now I know
> that someone will respond with the comment that lies are lies. Sure they
> are, but think about it - we are talking about removing a cigarette from an
> image of an artist at work on a postage stamp. If no one had brought it to
> our attention, would any of us ever have known the difference? If it
> introduces people to the work of Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism
> and in the process doesn't encourage cigarette smoking, then it sounds good
> to me.
> Stepping down from my soapbox,
> - Mark.
> Mark Brandau brandaum.us
> Art Department
> Lake Oswego High School
> Lake Oswego, Oregon 503.699.1430
> "Never take art for granted, never take art too seriously."