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Jason Polan: I Want to Know All of You

drawings of some things found on the streets of NYC

Recently, some of the items from the personal collection of the late artist Jason Polan were auctioned off. The NY Times wrote about the effort to preserve his legacy.

Jen Bekman, the founder of the online gallery 20x200, reflected on Mr. Polan’s legacy while she sat beside his sketches.

“These are not doodles,” Ms. Bekman said. “That word is diminishing. People remember him as an illustrator, but Jason was a great artist, and his practice was his life.”

I “lost” a bunch of time browsing through the collection this morning, which includes both work by Polan and things he collected & received from other artists.

drawing of a woman holding balloons

drawing of some of the art in the Museum of Modern Art

drawing of Greta Gerwig walking down the street

two drawings of people on the NYC subway

It’s great to see Polan’s legacy being preserved and his art being spread around the world. And to be reminded of that time he went to a fashion show.

I sort of stood still because I was a little confused as to what just happened. Kim walked right by me. Puff Daddy took a picture with someone right in front of me. I then saw Beyoncé walking toward me and I said, “Hi Beyoncé,” and she said, “Heeey,” and smiled and it was kind of like having a Bar Mitzvah. Then Jay Z walked by and I said, “Hi Jay,” and in the second I said that I thought, am I supposed to add a Z? but didn’t and he said hey but not as beautifully as Beyoncé. I love her so much. I drew a couple more people and then went outside and forgot where I was and then walked to the train and went home.

Reminder: you can buy prints and things of Polan’s work at 20x200. I have several of these, including the Zoo Baggu, which I get compliments on almost every time I use it for grocery shopping.

Discussion  1 comment

CW Moss

I hadn't heard about it, and am sad to have missed it.

There are so many beautiful things to see and think about. So many items spur questions of their provenance. Jason was obviously a dutiful collector and loved things deeply. I wonder how an original Charles Schulz and Windsor McCay came into his life. I'd love to hear that story.

These auctions feel incredibly revealing. It's fun to see everything he was into! But, to me, this feels a bit like looking into someone's medicine cabinet. It's just a touch too revealing. I remember Jason discussing a similar thing when the Morgan Library had a show of Salinger letters, which he went to and loved but also I think felt a little off about.

One thing I was looking for was any reference to DFW. I knew he at one point made a pilgrimage of sorts to see Bloomington (I think). I was curious if there might be notes of that, or we'd see Jason's collection of related ephemera. This auction didn't have any literary books from his library, but I was always curious to see if or how he might doodle in the margins. I bet it would have been as beautiful as everything else he did.

I miss Jason. I didn't know him personally, but I always loved introducing his work to students when I was a teacher — and I still think about him often. 💙

Thanks for sharing this, Jason.

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