Reginald Murray Pollack, American (1924 - 2001)

Reginald Pollack

Reginald Murray Pollack (1924–2001) was an American painter known for metaphorical and theme based works of art. He was also a veteran of World War II having served in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

Pollack was born to Hungarian immigrants in Middle Village, Long Island, New York, on July 29, 1924. He graduated from the High School of Music and Art in New York City. Pollack had an identical twin brother Merrill, who was an editor and writer. He was published in The Saturday Evening Post. Another brother Louis Pollack established the Periot Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York. Pollack and his brothers were routinely taken by their father who was a tailor at Lord and Taylor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There they taught themselves to sketch. After serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Pollack using the GI bill traveled to Paris to study art. There he married his first wife Hanna Ben Dov, also an artist. He also married his second wife, Naomi Newman, an opera signer while living in Paris. This second marriage produced two daughters, Jane and Maia. His third wife and confidant of 32 years was Kerstin Birgitta Binns, an engineering organizational administrator of Swedish, Danish decent. In 1971 Pollack wrote the book: The Magician and the Child, dedicated to:" Kerstin Brigitta." They married in 1974, and she became his muse. Today she is the curator of the Reginald Pollack Collection.

Pollack was a founding member of Galerie Huit, the first gallerie in Paris operated by Americans, there were 12 of them, all x-GIs. While in Paris he studied at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, (1948–1952) "Paris in the late 1940s and early 1950s was a Mecca for American and European artists...Pollack said the tutelage of the Parisian artists he came in contact with (Alberto Giacometti, Fernand Léger, Man Ray, Francis Poulenc, Jacques Lipchitz, and Constantin Brâncuși) made him realize 'my responsibility to civilization ' Pollack spent 14 years in Paris, eight of them living directly next door to the famed sculptor Constantin Brâncuși who became his mentor. Pollack said Brâncuși was a "modern-day artistic shaman, a holy man as mystically in tune with the primal cosmos as he was impervious to the strains of ordinary existence" The history of Galerie Huit is a remarkable and significant one in the recent history of American art." The artists represented at Galerie Huit were: Rodney P. Abrahamson, Oscar Chelimsky, Carmen D'Avino, Sydney Geist, Burt Hasen, Al Held, Raymond Hendler, Herbert Katzman, Paul Keene, Jonah Kinigstein, Jules Olitski, George Ortman, Marianna Pineda, Jack Robinowitz, Haywood Bill Rivers, Robert L. Rosenwald, Shinkichi Tajiri, Harold Tovish, Hugh Townley and Hugh Weiss.

Pollack's call to responsibility guided his work throughout his life. His memories and revulsion of World War II where he served in the 87th Mountain Division participating in the invasion of Kiska in the Aleutians and also in the South Pacific, propelled him to write, O is for Overkill, with his twin brother Merrill. Both were WW II combat veterans. In May 2011 the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami chose Pollack's Peace March, 1967 to pay honor to his art and political activism. Art critic Alexis Gray wrote:" Reginald Murray Pollack, who studied at New York City's High School of Music and Art before serving in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, was described by his twin brother in a June 1977 Esquire article as " a fine artist, humanist, poetically inclined anti-Vietnam war peace marcher, participant, with other artists, in an antiwar coalition, occasional user of pot and sympathizer with hippies and yippies and most youthful rebels." Accordingly, Peace March captures the Dionysian tone of 1967's Summer of Love. Directly calling on James Ensor's Symbolist- era masterpiece, Christ's Entry into Brussels (1889), which was painted at the peak of the class struggle that followed the formation of the socialist party in Belgium, Pollack adapts Ensor's allegorical illustration of the popular revolt to the anti-Vietnam War sentiment that had gained widespread support throughout America by the late 1960s. During the same year Peace March was completed Reginald Pollack's career was highlighted in the Star Trek episode "Requiem for Methuselah." In it, the fictional character Mr. Flint, an immortal human from Earth who lived under several aliases over a span of six thousand years, acquires a painting by Pollack that is prominently displayed in his castle on Holberg 917G. In a key scene at Flint's residence, during which Spock explains to a host of dignitaries the significance of Western art since the Italian Renaissance, the Starfleet first officer likens Pollack's career to that of Leonardo da Vinci. Pollack's work is now represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Stanford University, and the New Orleans Museum of Art."

Pollack said:" we must allow experience to enter our daily lives as with the wondering eyes of a new born child, the child discovers things second by second."[9] Upon his move back to the United States in 1960 Pollack became an art instructor and Visiting Critic of Art at Yale University. Pollack became interested in philosophy and helped establish the Jungian encounter movement in California developing art as therapy. It was at his time that he met his third wife, Kerstin Brigitta and his art became more metaphysical. The year of their marriage he wrote a morality play The War of the Angels, at the National Cathedral. The production was daring ...lasers, computer graphics, NASA supplied photos, and a musical Rock group. Experiencing the limitlessness of his creativity he produced a painting on vinyl that stood 103-feet by four feet and hung from the top of the Cathedral nave to the ground floor. The installation was in celebration of the safe return of America's astronauts from space. His creativity led him to explore other mediums and new technology. "In 1977, Penn State University held a Pollack painting exhibition and during the University's annual arts festival Reginald produced a light show using neon helium lasers to project abstract images on screen. Also computer-generated images were made to interact with the laser images; accompanying music by Bach and Stravinsky ...these ambitions led him to co-found the nationally known Washington Project of the Arts, which helped many unknown artists exhibit their work, giving them an opportunity to showcase their work. The Project continues to this day."

Until his death at his home in Palm Springs, California, December 6, 2001, art was always at its center. Pollack's life in art was constant and fruitful. His work is in many private collections and museums throughout the world. His love for his fellow man lives on in what many call Pollack's metaphysical paintings, their dream like quality and colors with palatable energy evoke questions, feelings and ideas. "Over a 60-year career, he participated in more than 80 exhibitions with works in numerous public collections such as The Metropolitan Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The National Museum of American Art, The Hirshhorn Museum and many others as well in numerous private collections”

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