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Because many of Jackson Pollock's most familiar statements are multiply authored, they seem to challenge basic assumptions regarding the transparency of intention to meaning that they are often presumed to enunciate. The fact that Pollock's public declarations about his work are collages, juxtaposing different voices and points of view with his own, complicates our assessment of their validity as univocal expressions of his intentions. In his film Jackson Pollock, Namuth utilizes those statements, many of which concern aspects of Pollock's technical procedure, as part of his strategy to ground the meaning of Pollock's paintings in the processby which his paintings were made. In this essay, I analyse Namuth's film as an instance of an anti-intentionalist, causal account of Pollock's work. I also point out what I take to be a detrimental consequence of the reduction of meaning to causes in a discussion of Rosalind Krauss's work on Namuth's photographs; namely, the conversion of the artwork into a ‘text’ or intentionless object. Additionally, I define the intentionalist position, staking out my view in relation not only to some recent theoretical work concerning intention and meaning, but also to the literary criticism of some of Pollock's contemporaries (the New Critics). Finally, I offer an interpretation of Pollock's Number 1, 1949 that proceeds from the intentionalist position.


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Forum for Modern Language Studies