Pollock, (Paul) Jackson

Pollock, (Paul) Jackson

biographical name


Jackson Pollock painting in his studio on Long Island, New York, 1950.—© Hans Namuth

(born Jan. 28, 1912, Cody, Wyo., U.S.—died Aug. 11, 1956, East Hampton, N.Y.) U.S. painter. He grew up in California and Arizona. In the early 1930s he studied in New York City under Thomas Hart Benton, and later he was employed on the WPA Federal Art Project. In 1945 he married the artist Lee Krasner. Two years later, after several years of semiabstract work stimulated by psychotherapy, Pollock began to lay his canvas on the floor and pour or drip paint onto it in stages. This process permitted him to record the force and scope of his gestures in trajectories of enamel or aluminum paint that “veiled” the figurative elements found in his earlier work. The results were huge areas covered with complex and dynamic linear patterns that fuse image and form and engulf the vision of the spectator in their scale and intricacy. Pollock believed that art derived from the unconscious and judged his work and that of others on its inherent authenticity of personal expression. He became known as a leading practitioner of Abstract Expressionism, particularly the form known as action painting. Championed by critic Clement Greenberg and others, he became a celebrity. When he died in a car crash at 44, he was one of the few American painters to be recognized during his lifetime and afterward as the peer of 20th-century European masters of modern art.

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