That Elusive American Thing

“The whole idea of some kind of more fundamental ‘Americanness,’ seeping into all our art the way the landscape of Bordeaux seeps into its wines, falls apart as soon as you start testing it. What if it turned out, for instance, that all of Jackson Pollock’s pictures were actually painted by a Frenchman — a certain Jacques Saint-Paul Oc — who got a hard-drinking young American to flog them for him? Someone would be bound to insist that only a Frenchman could have managed all that insouciant paint-dripping, with its Gallic joie de vivre and a soupcon of panache.”