Art History

Happy Birthday Jackson Pollock

Number 31 (1950), Jackson Pollock, MoMA
Happy Birthday to Jackson Pollock, born this day back in 1912!  
Jackson Pollock was an American painter who was part of the Abstract Expressionist movement.  It has taken a long time for me to appreciate his work (which is still an evolving process).  As a realist, I have had to take a step back and look to the basic principles of art – of color, balance, contrast, movement, rhythm, emphasis, pattern, variety – and learn more about his creation process to enjoy his work.  Not focusing on ‘what’ is it and instead exploring ‘how’ is it; how does it use the different principles of art and how does it make me feel.  

PictureJackson Pollock painting in his studio on Long Island, New York, 1950. © Hans Namuth

This picture shows part of Pollock’s unique technique of drip painting.  He would fling and drip paint onto an unstretched canvas laid out on his studio floor.  Line and color became the subject of the paintings.  His artistic process depended on improvisational physical interaction with his materials as well as gravity and velocity to create his works.

Some interesting facts about Jackson Pollock:
  • Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming! (I found this super exciting as a former Wyomingite)
  • However, he only lived in Cody for his first 10 months and later grew up in Arizona and California.
  • In 1930 Pollock moved to NYC with his brother and studied at the Art Students League under Thomas Hart Benton.
  • He was introduced to liquid paint in 1936 during an experimental workshop by muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (liquid enamel paint was a new invention at this time).
  • His famous drip period was 1947 to 1950.
  • Pollock achieved great fame while still alive for his paintings.
  • He died in 1956 in NY from an alcohol-related single car accident at the age of 44. 

PictureMural (1943), Jackson Pollock, University of Iowa Museum of Art


Do you have a favorite Jackson Pollock painting?

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