Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock: January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956

Jackson Pollock was the first American abstract painter to be taken seriously in Europe.

Born to Stella McClure and LeRoy McCoy Pollock, Jackson Pollock was the fifth and youngest son. He was originally from Cody, Wyoming, but was raised in Arizona and California.
Jackson Pollock
Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock from the 1999 motion picture “Pollack”.

Jackson was attending Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles when he was encouraged to pursue his interest in art. His oldest brother, Charles, went to New York to study with painter Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. He suggested that Jackson join him and, in 1930, Pollock moved east and enrolled in Benton’s class. He studied Old Master paintings and mural paintings. He also posed for his teacher’s 1930 murals at the New School for Social Research. Also at work at this time was Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. He was also exposed to David Alfaro Siquieros. Their experimental techniques and large scale art had a lasting impact on Pollock.

Jackson PollockAround this time, Pollock was invited to participate in a group exhibition. Here, is where he met his future wife Lee Krasner. His work also came to the attention of Peggy Guggenheim, the wealthy New York heiress whose money built the Guggenheim Museum. She became his dealer and patron, introducing his work to audiences. In November 1943, she gave him a solo exhibition and a contract guaranteeing him one-hundred fifty dollars a month for a year.

In 1945, Guggenheim lent Pollock the down payment on a small house in The Springs on East Hampton, Long Island. He and his wife lived there till their deaths and their house is now the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center.
Jackson Pollock Painting
Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock from the movie “Pollack”.

Here he began creating his characteristic large scale artwork. His work was praised and dismissed at the same time. But he was gaining significant attention with a number of one- person exhibitions. While he was widely known in the New York art world, the rest of the world was introduced to him in August of 1949, when Life magazine did a piece on him.

In 1951, Pollock underwent a change in emphasis in his work. He gave up the use of color and instead created a series of black paintings on unprimed canvases.

For the next five years after, he continued to struggle with his drinking and his art continued to undergo changes and he returned to using colors. In his last year, he did not paint at all.

Around this time, his marriage to Krasner was unstable. He had taken a mistress and Krasner took the opportunity to go to Europe to re-evaluate their relationship. Unfortunately, Krasner received a call informing her of her husband’s sudden tragic


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