It was my wife, , who first saw the letters. We were looking at a reproduction of Jackson Pollock's breakthrough
work, Mural, an 8-by 20-foot canvas bursting with physical energy that, in 1943, was unlike anything seen before.
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The critic Clement Greenberg, Pollock's principal champion, said he took one look at the painting and realized
that "Jackson was the greatest painter this country has produced." A Museum of Modern Art curator, the late Kirk
Varnedoe, said Mural established Jackson Pollock as the world's premier modern painter.
I was researching a book about Pollock's lifelong relationship with his mentor, Thomas Hart Benton, the famed
regionalist and muralist, when I sat puzzling over a reproduction of Mural after breakfast one morning with
Marianne, herself an art historian. She suddenly said she could make out the letters S-O-N in blackish paint in the
upper right area of the mural. Then she realized JACKSON ran across the entire top. And finally she saw
POLLOCK below that.
The characters are unorthodox, even ambiguous, and largely hidden. But, she pointed out, it could hardly be
random coincidence to find just those letters in that sequence.