Jackson Pollock



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Pollock His Life And Painting

Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, the youngest of five sons. His father was a farmer and later a land surveyor for the government. He grew up in Arizona and California, studying at Los Angeles' Manual Arts High School. During his early life, he experienced Indian culture while on surveying trips with his father. In 1929, following his brother Charles, he moved to New York City, where they both studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. Benton's rural American subject matter shaped Jackson Pollock's work only fleetingly, but his rhythmic use of paint and his fierce independence were more lasting influences. The Pollock painting style is classified as Abstract Expressionist because of its unattachment to representual subject matter. In October 1945, jackson Pollock married another important American painter, Lee Krasner, and in November they moved to what is now known as the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio in Springs on Long Island, New York. Peggy Guggenheim loaned them the down payment for the wood-frame house with a nearby barn that was made into a studio. It was there that he perfected the technique of working spontaneously with liquid paint.


Before Jackson Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936, at an experimental workshop operated in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. He later used paint pouring as one of several techniques in canvases of the early 1940s, such as "Male and Female" and "Composition with Pouring I." After his move to Springs, Jackson Pollock began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and developed what was later called his "drip" technique. The drip technique required paint with a fluid viscosity so he turned to then new synthetic resin-based paints, called "gloss enamel", made for industrial purposes such as spray-painting cars. During WWII, these gloss enamel paints were more available than typical artist’s oil paints, and they were cheaper. Pollock described this use of household and industrial 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. He would poke a hole in the bottom of a tin can of paint to get an extended drip line. This 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, the paint now literally flying from his chosen tool onto the canvas. By defying the conventional way of painting on an upright surface, he added a new dimension, literally, by being able to view and apply paint to his canvases from all directions.

In the process of making paintings in this way he moved away from figurative representation, and challenged the Western tradition of using easel and brush, as well as moving away from use only of the hand and wrist; as he Jackson Pollock used his whole body to paint. In 1956 Time magazine dubbed Pollock "Jack the Dripper" as a result of his unique painting style.

Jackson Pollock observed Indian sandpainting demonstrations in the 1940s. Other influences on his dripping technique include the Mexican muralists and also Surrealist automatism. He denied "the accident"; he usually had an idea of how he wanted a particular piece to appear. It was about the movement of his body, over which he had control, mixed with the viscous flow of paint, the force of gravity, and the way paint was absorbed into the canvas. The mix of the uncontrollable and the controllable. Flinging, dripping, pouring, spattering, he would energetically move around the canvas, almost as if in a dance, and would not stop until he saw what he wanted to see.

Studies by Taylor, Micolich and Jonas have explored the nature of Jackson Pollock's technique and have determined that some of these works display the properties of mathematical fractals; and that the works become more fractal-like chronologically through his career. They even go on to speculate that on some level, he may have been aware of the nature of chaotic motion, and was attempting to form what he perceived as a perfect representation of mathematical chaos - more than ten years before Chaos Theory itself was discovered.



Pollock's Comments

My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.

When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. 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.



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Painter Jackson Pollock Working in His Studio, Cigarette in Mouth, Dropping Paint Onto Canvas
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