Jackson Pollock Biography | Oil Paintings
1-28-1912 Cody, USA – 8-11-1956 Long Island, USABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
The history of art usually advances in gradual stages. It can happen, that the creativity of an individual master succeeds in “breaking the rhythm”, producing unforeseen, violent leaps. Jackson Pollock was one of these "revolutionary" painters. Every now and then in his paintings, which are often very large, one can identify the influence of other twentieth-century masters, but there is no question that, all in all, Pollock's explosive entrance onto the international painting scene led to a crucial break with tradition.
Pollock Attributed Extreme Importance to the Role of Chance.
Jackson Pollock attributed extreme importance to the role of chance. Using the “drip” technique, he splashed paint or even poured whole cans onto the canvas, which was stretched out on the floor. Aspects of Pollock's life seem to be taken from a novel, for instance, he grew up in the American West with the Navajo Indians and their ritual drawings sketched in the sand left a lasting impression on him. He arrived in New York in 1929, the year of the Stock Market Crash. Here he came in contact with European art and his particular admiration for Joan Miro's freedom of expression led him to move in the direction of Abstract Art. His direct knowledge of tribal and “primitive” art encouraged him to ascribe symbolic significance even to the very act of painting. His way of working, with its powerful physical and gestural component, became known as “action painting”, and was characterized by a kind of dance around the canvas. Thus Pollock became one of the founding fathers of Abstract Expressionism and anticipated the concept of performance art. Pollock held that movements made by the artist while working are an integral part of the painting.
He was briefly influenced by Benton and the Regionalists but learned more from Siqueiros and the Mexican muralists, who impressed him by their expressive, almost violent use of paint. Pollock also began to explore the possibilities of Jungian psychology. This started as an aspect of his private life, psychotherapy was one of the many treatments he tried for his long-term alcoholism, but it also fueled his art. For like the Surrealists, he adopted the idea of automatic painting, as a mirror of the subconscious.
After years of isolation and critical neglect, Jackson Pollock's experiments bear fruit in the late 1940s. By 1947, he had perfected the 'drip' technique which made him famous. The great collector Peggy Guggenheim personally commissioned Pollock to paint for her and was truly responsible for recognizing the painter's singular talent. He placed his canvas on the floor and covered it in trails of paint, poured from the can. This process was carried out in an artistic frenzy, comparable with the Indian ritual dance which he had seen as a boy. Pollock's output slowed in the 1950s and he was killed in a car crash in 1956 at the age of 44.
In November 2006, Jackson Pollock's Number 5, 1948 became the world's most expensive painting, when it was sold to an undisclosed buyer for the sum of US$140,000,000. In 2013, Pollock's Number 19 was sold at auction for US$58,400,000.
Art Movement History: Abstract Expressionism.
Artists Influencing Jackson Pollock: Thomas Hart Benton, Andre Masson, David Siqueiros, Joan Miro.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.