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Born Paul Jackson Pollock in Cody, Wyoming in 1912. He was an American artist and
the best known exponent of Abstract Expressionism. He first studied art in 1929 at
the Art Students’ League in New York. Initially he was influenced by the Regionalist
movement, with their rural American imagery, as well as Mexican muralist painters.
Surrealism and Native American sand paintings were other influences. The latter are
created by dribbling sand onto horizontal surface. By the mid 1940’s he was creating
completely abstract works like “Male and Female” and “Stenographic Figure”, both
Below, ‘Convergence’, Jackson Pollock 1952 Jackson Pollock’s style of action painting
emerged in 1947. He started putting canvases on the floor or walls and dripping,
dropping and throwing the paint on them. He worked it in with sticks, trowels and
knives instead of brushes. Some works also featured the addition of broken glass
particles, sand and other foreign matter as he experimented with texture.
This method of action painting had much in common with the surrealist theory of Automatism
which was thought to tap directly into the unconscious moods, thoughts, feelings
and desires of the artist. He himself claimed he was not aware of what he was doing
when he was in this creative state.
He also pioneered all over painting which abandoned traditional rules of composition.
His all over painting meant his work often had no focal point and he would crop the
canvas later to suit the images his subconscious had created.
He was married in 1944 to another abstract expressionist artist, Lee Krasner. A great
influence on his life and his work, she is a respected artist of some renown.
In the 1940’s he started numbering his paintings instead of giving them names because
he said that names led people to look for things in the painting that weren’t there.
He wanted people to just see the painting itself, not what they thought it represented.
Left, “Enchanted Forest”, Jackson Pollock
He was loved by some forward thinking critics but derided by others. His fame and
popularity were assured in 1949 when he was featured in a four page spread by LIFE
magazine which asked the question, “Is he the greatest living painter in the United
States.” However in 1956 Time unflatteringly called him “Jack the Dripper”.
In the fifties he changed style and produced monochrome and then more colourful figurative
In common with many talented artistic trail blazers he had his own personal demons.
He was expelled from two schools as a teenager. A moody figure who suffered with
alcoholism, he underwent Jungian therapy to try to conquer his alcohol problem. It
has been suggested that he suffered from what today we call “bipolar disorder”. His
depression and alcoholism deepened as his success increased. He came under increasing
commercial pressures as a sought after artist.
He died young but famous aged only 44 in an alcohol related car crash less than a
mile from his home. No other cars were involved, his passenger also died.
In 2006 his No.5 painting from 1948 became the world’s most expensive painting when
it was sold for $140,000,000
Visitwww.jacksonpollock.org and you can create your own masterpiece in the style
of Pollock. Get creative by dragging, clicking your mouse over the white canvas.
Splashy colourful drips appear on the screen and you can change colour by clicking.
Jackson Pollock paintings are amongst the best selling prints, posters and canvases
gracing living rooms, bedrooms and offices the world over. We hope you’ve enjoyed
our facts about Jackson Pollock and we’ve inspired you to own some Jackson Pollock
art for yourself.
American artist 1912-1956
Drip and Splash - Action paintings
In later works he numbered his paintings instead of naming them so that viewers would
not read anything into the names of his artworks
Died young in an alcohol fuelled car crash aged 44
Painted canvases on the floor
He said “When I am in my painting I am not aware of what I am doing”
Alcoholic, moody and possibly bi-polar
His 1948 painting, Number 5, sold for 140 million dollars in 2006 making it the world’s
most expensive painting at that time.
10 Used sticks, trowels and knives instead of brushes. Mixed broken glass and sand
in with his paint for his creations