Pollock, Jackson

Pollock, Jackson Biography

One of the leading exponents of Abstract Expressionism, particularly the form known as Action Painting. After considerable stylistic experimentation, he developed about 1947 the radical "drip painting" technique that became his hallmark.

Born in Cody, Wyoming, Jackson Pollock moved to New York City in 1930 to study at the Art Students League with American artist Thomas Hart Benton. Jackson Pollock's early oil paintings, realistic scenes of life in America, clearly reflect Benton's influence. As his career progressed, Jackson Pollock rejected his teacher's representational subject matter, but retained Benton's emphasis on rhythmic, dynamic composition. In New York, Jackson Pollock was also exposed to the work of Mexican mural painters Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Their experimental techniques, large scale, and use of industrial paints had a lasting impact on Pollock's work.

The surrealism movement was another significant influence upon Jackson Pollock, whose ideas about the relevance of the unconscious to artistic creativity coincided with his own experience.

In 1945 he married the painter Lee Krasner After moving to a larger studio on Long Island in 1947, Jackson Pollock began creating his characteristic large-scale abstractions. He placed the canvas on the floor, attacked it from all directions, and poured paint directly on it. His new method resulted in part from his interest in Native American sand paintings, which are created on the ground with sand of various colors let loose from the hand. Typical of this period, Autumn Rhythm (1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) is clearly abstract, since it makes no direct reference to the external world.

Although his dripping technique remained unchanged, Jackson Pollock reverted to figuration in 1951. In Portrait and a Dream (1953, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas), for example, interlaced streams of black paint on the left side of the canvas are fully abstract, but on the right side these black lines form a woman's head, which Jackson Pollock then filled in with patches of red, yellow, pink, and gray. He became less productive in the last years of his life, and died in an automobile accident in 1956.

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