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Jackson Pollock

American Painter

Jackson Pollock Photo

Born: January 28, 1912 - Cody, Wyoming

Died: August 11, 1956 - East Hampton, New York

"It doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement."

Jackson Pollock Signature

Summary of Jackson Pollock

In its edition of August 8th, 1949, Life magazine ran a feature article about Jackson Pollock that bore this question in the headline: "Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" Could a painter who flung paint at canvases with a stick, who poured and hurled it to create roiling vortexes of color and line, possibly be considered "great"? New York's critics certainly thought so, and Pollock's pre-eminence among the Abstract Expressionists has endured, cemented by the legend of his alcoholism and his early death. The famous 'drip paintings' that he began to produce in the late 1940s represent one of the most original bodies of work of the century. At times they could suggest the life-force in nature itself, at others they could evoke man's entrapment - in the body, in the anxious mind, and in the newly frightening modern world.

Key Ideas

Pollock's tough and unsettled early life growing up in the American West shaped him into the bullish character he would become. Later, a series of influences came together to guide Pollock to his mature style: years spent painting realist murals in the 1930s showed him the power of painting on a large scale; Surrealism suggested ways to describe the unconscious; and Cubism guided his understanding of picture space.
In 1939, Pollock began visiting a Jungian analyst to treat his alcoholism, and his analyst encouraged him to create drawings. These would later feed his paintings, and they shaped Pollock's understanding of his pictures not only as outpourings of his own mind, but expressions that might stand for the terror of all modern humanity living in the shadow of nuclear war.
Pollock's greatness lies in developing one of the most radical abstract styles in the history of modern art, detaching line from color, redefining the categories of drawing and painting, and finding new means to describe pictorial space.
Pollock was represented on a number of US Postage Stamps over the last 50 years

Pollock lived the reclusive and passionate artistic life that ended in tragedy - in line with it was this, self-described commanding impulse: "Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source. They work from within."

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