Featured Artist: Jackson Pollock

 

Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956), who was popularly known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a famous figure in the abstract expressionist movement. He was known for his unique style of drip painting.

During his lifetime, Pollock has enjoyed both – his considerable fame and disrepute. He had a volatile personality, and has struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy.

 

Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related, single-car accident; he was driving. In December 1956, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. And in 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale reflective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.

Further in the year 2000, Pollock was the subject of the film Pollock, which was directed by and starring Ed Harris, and has won an Academy Award.

Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936 at an experimental workshop in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. He later used paint pouring as one of the several techniques on canvases, such as Male and Female and Composition with Pouring I. After his move to springs he began painting with his canvases lay out on the studio floor, and developed what was later called his “drip” technique.

 

He started using synthetic resin-based paints called alkyd enamels, which at that time was a novel medium. Pollock described this use of household paints, instead of artist’s paints, as “a natural growth out of a need”. He used hardened brushes, sticks, and even basting syringes as paint applicators.

 

Pollock’s technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term action painting. With this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art onto the canvas from all directions.

 

With his style of painting, Pollock moved away from figurative representation, and challenged the Western tradition of using easel and brush. He used the force of his whole body to paint, which was expressed on the large canvases.

 

Drip period

 

Pollock’s most famous paintings were made during the “drip period” between 1947 and 1950. He rocketed to fame following an August 8, 1949 four-page spread in Life magazine that asked, “Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” At the peak of his fame, Pollock abruptly abandoned the drip style.

 

Pollock’s work after 1951 was darker in color, including a collection painted in black on unprimed canvases. He later returned to using color and reintroduced figurative elements. During this period, Pollock had moved to a more commercial gallery. There was a great demand for his work from collectors and in response to this pressure, along with personal frustration, his alcoholism deepened.

 

Legacy

 

The Pollock-Krasner House and Studio is owned and administered by a non-profit affiliate Stony Brook Foundation. A separate organization, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, was established in 1985 that functions as the official Estate for both Pollock and his widow Lee Krasnerunder the terms of Krasner’s will, which serves “to assist individual working artists of merit with financial need”. The U.S. copyright representative for the Pollock-Krasner Foundation is the Artists Rights Society (ARS).

Also, Lee Krasner donated his papers in 1983 to the Archives of American Art which were later archived with Lee Krasner’s papers. The Archives of American Art also houses the Charles Pollock Papers, which includes correspondence, photographs, and other files relating to his brother Jackson Pollock.