Painting a picture of the Guggenheim's marvels
WHO knew there were so many Pollock brothers?
Well, perhaps you if you are an art enthusiast, but to most of us with just a polite interest in art, the name Pollock means Jackson Pollock - and that is synonymous with splattered and vibrant drip paintings.
But Jackson was just one of five boys in the American Pollock family, the youngest born in 1912. The eldest, Charles, was also an artist.
I learnt this at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice during a heady morning of art and culture at a Jackson Pollock retrospective.
Along with his paintings and works by his brother Charles, there were preserved scrawled letters from his father, fondly encouraging him in his artistic endeavours.
The Guggenheim in Venice is a serene and charming place, an oasis of traditions away from the crowded streets and squares.
Founded by wealthy American socialite Peggy Guggenheim, this small museum-gallery was her home from 1949 until she died in 1979, the place where she kept her private art collection which included works by Picasso, Chagall, Braque, De Chirico and Max Ernst (one of her husbands.)
Peggy Guggenheim's home, a former 18th century palazzo on the Grand Canal, was opened to the public in 1951 and has since welcomed millions of visitors.
During the 30 years of her Venice residency, Peggy Guggenheim supported American and European artists.
She introduced Jackson Pollock to Venice with an exhibition at the 1948 Venice Biennale, establishing his entry into the European art world.
Now the Guggenheim Museum is a popular attraction in the watery city, even though it is way down on the must-do list after St Mark's Square, Doge's Palace and a gondola ride.
During our previous Venice visits we have been too star-struck by Venice itself to get to the Guggenheim Museum, but it was always in the back of our minds, an iconic attraction that deserved our attention.
On this latest visit - still enchanted but not quite so beguiled by Venice - Guggenheim Museum topped our bucket list.
So it was that we strolled through the entry and then the green and tranquil sculpture garden into the palazzo and then through the many rooms, staring in hushed fascination at the Jackson Pollocks.
These paintings need lengthy contemplation, quiet study, serious inspection.
The longer you gaze deeply into them, the more splendour you see. The more you stand before them in sombre reflection, the more you appreciate the prodigious Pollock talent.
Then the shame kicks in. Were you really so impertinent to think a Jackson Pollock was just a big canvas splattered with paint?
Along with his works, photos of him standing over massive canvases laid out on the floor, dripping paint onto them from trowels, sticks, cans, knives, gave new understanding to the radical and fascinating Pollock abstract style.
There is much to enjoy, learn and appreciate at the Guggenheim Museum.
Peggy Guggenheim's collection is fascinating, as is the museum itself when you come out to the balcony and find all of the Grand Canal sparkling before you.
It's another side of Venice that should not be missed.