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Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock

(1912 - 1956)
Born: Cody, Wyoming
Style: Expressionism
Famous Works:
  • Cathedral (1947)
  • No. 5 (1948)
  • Blue Poles, Number 11 (1952)
Born in Wyoming and raised in the American west, Jackson Pollock moved to New York at seventeen and studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. Pollock admired Benton's aggressive style, as well as his wild lifestyle. Pollock himself was a wild figure, often unable to resist the temptation of alcohol. In 1940 Pollock was virtually unknown, but a decade later he had become the most popular living American artist. This catapult into success came from his break with painting convention, along with a series of introductions that changed the artist's life. In 1941 he met painter Lee Krasner, who became his wife. She introduced Pollock to Surrealism-inspired painters Robert Motherwell and Sebastian Matta. Also in this time he met Peggy Guggenheim, niece of the famous art philanthropist Solomon Guggenheim. She became a great supporter of Pollock, assisting him financially while commissioning work for her home. Guggenheim even helped Pollock and Krasner buy their house, and the barn that became Pollock's famous studio. Instead of hanging canvases on the wall, Pollock draped unstreched canvas on the floor, and with no particular orientation poured and flung paint in an all-over fashion. Using sticks and knives as his weapons Pollock would aggressively dump and splatter house paint. This technique was revolutionary, and removed all barriers between the painter and the painting. Accordingly, Pollock's style of painting gave rise the term "action" painting. Pollock lead a troubled life, continually fighting alcoholism and unable to maintain a healthy relationship with his wife. The artist's psychological tumult found an outlet in the raw, physical act of his painting method. Jackson Pollock's overwhelming energy, free-flowing style, and unrestrained expression are what place him among the greatest Abstract Expressionists. At only 44 years old, and under the influence of alcohol, Jackson Pollock died in a one-car crash on the night of August 11, 1956.
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