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Jackson Pollock 1912-1956 painter

Jackson Pollock was one of the leading figures of modern American painting, and one of the most important Abstract Expressionists. After an itinerant and impoverished childhood, he moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1924, and in 1930 made his way to New York. He enrolled as a student at the Art Students League, where he studied with the American regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. Later he became interested in the work of the Mexican muralists, and was strongly influenced by Picasso and the Surrealists, especially Max Ernst and Joan Miro.

Alcoholic and self-destructive, Pollock led a turbulent life, but despite his problems, he enjoyed a remarkably successful career. Around 1941 he met his future wife, the artist Lee Krasner, who introduced him to other young painters such as Robert Motherwell and Sebastian Matta. They, like Pollock, were strongly influenced by the Surrealists who had come to America to escape World War II. Pollock also met Peggy Guggenheim, an enthusiastic patron of artists, who commissioned him to paint a monumental work for her New York home. Finally, he attracted the attention of the art critic Clement Greenberg, whose favorable articles made Pollock famous.

In the large mural for Peggy Guggenheim, Pollock broke free of the influence of Picasso and Miro, and he soon began to develop a style that emphasized strong strokes or “gestures” in paint. This style would later be called “action painting,” a term given it by the critic Harold Rosenberg in a 1952 essay. In 1947 Pollock started to drip and pour streams of paint onto canvases placed on the floor, shaking the pigment from a stick or simply letting it run from pierced paint cans. The resulting works, the combined product of chance and intention, have an epic sweep that is altogether unique. Pollock’s novel technique posed the problem or artistic freedom versus control in a very acute way, and it inaugurated a new conception of the act of painting.

In 1951 Pollock reverted to representation, limiting his palette to black and white in works that look like giant drawings. His development along these lines was cut short, however. In 1956, while deliberately driving recklessly on a country road on Long Island, Pollock and one of his passengers were killed when the car crashed. He was forty-four.

This article is courtesy of ‘The beginners guide to Art’ , translated from French by John Goodman, edited by Brigitte Govignon.The article was brought to you by Blue Horizon Printing ,experts in premium quality canvas art prints at affordable prices.

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