The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Dumbfounded (1991)

New York Times, June 2, 1991. Letter to the editor.



It was gratifying to read Professor Francis V. 0'Connor's attack on that foul book about Jackson Pollock by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith ["An Undeserved Pulitzer for a Pop Biography?," May 12] and to see the strong editorial implication that the Pulitzer judges didn't know what they were doing when they awarded it the prize for biography.

We all know Pollock had problems, but he was an inspired artist and he got the art made anyway. I admire the art, and I admire Pollock for making it. There is not much to admire about that compilation of willful error and sleazy Mr. Naifeh and Mr. Smith wrote. Most of the art professionals I have spoken to are dumbfounded by the award, and feel indirectly denigrated by it, as I do. Garbage sells, but it shouldn't win prizes. Thanks for saying so.

Coral Gables, Fla.

The writer is the chairman of the department of art and art history at the University of Miami.