Jackson Pollock is considered by many to be one of the greatest American painters of the 20th century, although he has had his share of detractors. He created a completely new form of art, free from the confines of paint brushes and easels, where his mind and body worked together on the creation of his image (known as action painting). His work has left an indelible impression whose influence is still felt in the art world to this very day.
Pollock was born in the Midwest in 1912 and grew up in Arizona and later in California where he attended the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. He moved to New York at the age of 18 where he studied alongside his brother Charles Pollock at the Art Students League under the famed landscape artist Thomas Hart Benton.[learn_more caption="Click here to continue reading about this artist"] It was under Benton that Pollock focused much of his early work on rural landscapes. He also studied Mexican art in New York which would also have a major impact on his work. It was through Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros that he was first introduced to working with liquid paint that he would later use to create his signature style. Although he would show his work alongside other artists in group shows, it wasn’t until 1943 that Pollock had his first full gallery showing.
Pollock and artists Lee Krasner were married on October 1945. He and Kranser moved into what is now known as the Pollock-Krasner house in Long Island, New York. The house included a nearby barn that was converted into his studio. It has been reported that while working on a mural in his studio, paint accidently dripped from his brush onto the floor. That drop of paint created an epiphany in Pollock’s mind that would completely change the direction of his work. It was there that he would perfect his painting technique with which he would become identified with forever.
Many of Pollock’s most well known paintings were created between the years of 1947 and 1950. He received celebrity status after a 4 page article in Life Magazine asked the question, “Is Pollock the greatest living painter in the U.S.?” At the height of his fame, Pollock unexpectedly discarded the drip style that earned him his popularity and began working on darker, more somber canvases and later to more colorful canvases with figurative subject matter. There was a huge demand for new paintings which only seemed to increase his sense of burden and deepen his alcoholism.
It has been well documented that Pollock suffered from alcoholism most of his adult life. On August 11, 1956 a crash took his and passenger Edith Metzger’s life while driving under the influence less than a mile from the artist’s home. He died at the age of 44.