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Famous 20th century artist Jackson Pollock revolutionized the world of modern art with his unique abstract painting techniques.
Jackson Pollock - Full Episode (45:00)
Salvador Dali - Meeting Gala (3:36)
A short biography of Jackson Pollock, an art icon of Abstract Expressionism best known for his drip paintings, as well as his battle with alcoholism.
The full biography of American artist Jackson Pollock.
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Born on January 28, 1912, in Cody, Wyoming, artist Jackson Pollock studied under Thomas Hart Benton before leaving traditional techniques to explore abstraction expressionism via his splatter and action pieces, which involved pouring paint and other media directly onto canvases. Pollock was both renowned and critiqued for his conventions. He died after driving drunk and crashing into a tree in New York in 1956, at age 44.
"It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well."
"I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you're painting out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge."
"Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn’t have any beginning or any end. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it was."
Paul Jackson Pollock was born on January 28, 1912 in Cody, Wyoming. His father, LeRoy Pollock, was a farmer and a government land surveyor, and his mother, Stella May McClure, was a fierce woman with artistic ambitions. The youngest of five brothers, he was a needy child and was often in search of attention that he did not receive.
During his youth, Pollock's family moved around the West, to Arizona and throughout California. When Pollock was 8, his father, who was an abusive alcoholic, left the family, and Pollock's older brother, Charles, became like a father to him. Charles was an artist, and was considered to be the best in the family. He had a significant influence on his younger brother's future ambitions. While the family was living in Los Angeles, Pollock enrolled in the Manual Arts High School, where he learned to draw but had little success expressing himself. He was eventually expelled for starting fights.
In 1930, at age 18, Pollock moved to New York City to live with his brother, Charles. He soon began studying with Charles's art teacher, representational regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. Pollock spent much of his time with Benton, often babysitting Benton's young son, and the Bentons eventually became like the family Pollock felt he never had.
When Pollock's father died suddenly in 1933, he fell into a deep depression. He got drunk one night and started a fight with Charles's wife, Elizabeth. During the fight, Pollock threatened her with an ax, and then turned around and sliced through one of his brothe'’s paintings, which had been scheduled for an upcoming exhibition. Pollock was forced to leave Charles's house, and in 1934, his brother Sanford arrived in New York to help take care of him.
During the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started a program called the Public Works of Art Project, one of many intended to jumpstart the economy. Artists such as Pollock were given $24.86 to do 20 hours of work a week. The program resulted in thousands of works of art by Pollock and contemporaries such as José Clemente Orozco, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko.
But despite being busy with work, Pollock could not stop drinking. In 1937, he began receiving psychiatric treatment for alcoholism from a Jungian analyst who fueled his interest in symbolism and Native American art. In 1939, Pollock discovered Pablo Picasso's show at the Museum of Modern Art. Picasso's artistic experimentation encouraged Pollock to push the boundaries of his own work.
In 1942, Pollock met Lee Krasner, a Jewish contemporary artist and an established painter in her own right, at a party.
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