3 Minute Art History Lessons: Jackson Pollock

Dates:1912-1956

Location:America

Medium:Painter, Drawer, Sculptor

Periods: Modern Art, Abstract Expressionism

“The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.”-Jackson Pollock

Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Jackson Pollock developed one of the most radical abstract styles in the history of modern art and found new ways to define pictorial space.

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Fast Facts:

  • Pollock was born in Wyoming and grew up in Arizona and California. He grew up observing Native American culture on survey trips with his father and may have been influenced by Native American art.
  • In 1929 Pollock studied at the Students’ League in New York. He was working in the Regionalist style and was heavily influence by Mexican muralist painters and Surrealism.
  • After World War II radical new directions in art emerged. The aftermath of the war began the movement known as Abstract Expressionism.
  • In the mid 1940s Pollock introduced his now famous style of “drip paintings” which represented one of the most original bodies of work of the time and forever inspired American art.
  • These new art forms can suggest the life-force in nature and can evoke man’s body, anxious mind and the new modern world.
  • He produced most of these paintings by setting his canvases on the floor or paid out against a wall instead of fixing it to an easel.
  • He would create images by allowing paint to drip and would add depth to his paintings by using knives, trowels, or sticks.
  • The All-over method of painting is also attributed to Pollock in which the art form avoids any clear and distinct points of emphasis or any identifiable parts within the canvas.
  • He achieved fame and notoriety in his lifetime, however there was often speculation over his radical methods and growing reputation.
  • He suffered in his personal life with alcoholism.
  • He died prematurely when he was killed in a car crash at age 44 due to driving under the influence of alcohol. Edith Metzger, one of his passengers, was also killed. The other passenger Ruth Kligman, an artist and Pollock’s mistress, survived the crash.
Pollock painting Alchemy, 1947.

Pollock painting Alchemy, 1947.

Jackson Pollock took risks and creative approaches that led future artist to create with passion instead of being trapped by set boundaries or guidelines.

Convergence, 1952. Image property of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Convergence, 1952. Image property of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Untitled, c. 1950

Untitled, c. 1950

Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist),1950

Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist),1950

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