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Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock (cropped).jpg
Pollock, circa 1928
Paul Jackson Pollock

(1912-01-28)January 28, 1912
Died August 11, 1956(1956-08-11) (aged 44)
Education Art Students League of New York
Known for Painting
Notable work
  • Number 17A (1948)
  • No. 5, 1948 (1948)
  • Mural on Indian Red Ground (1950)
  • Autumn Rhythm (1950)
  • Convergence (1952)
  • Blue Poles (Number 11, 1952) (1952)
  • The Deep (1953)
Movement Abstract expressionism
(m. 1945)
Jackson Pollock Signature.svg

Paul Jackson Pollock ( January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) was an American painter. He was widely noticed for his "drip technique" which consisted in pouring or splashing liquid household paint onto a horizontal surface. This enabled Pollock to view and paint his canvases from all angles. The technique was called all-over painting and action painting, since he covered the entire canvas and used the force of his whole body to paint.

Pollock's paintings are in museums all over the world, and his work is rated very highly. Pollock has been the subject of many movies because of his interesting life.

Early life (1912–1936)

Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912, the youngest of five brothers. His parents, Stella May (née McClure) and LeRoy Pollock, were born and grew up in Tingley, Iowa, and were educated at Tingley High School. His father was a farmer and later a land surveyor for the government, moving for different jobs. Stella, proud of her family's heritage as weavers, made and sold dresses as a teenager. In November 1912, Stella took her sons to San Diego; Jackson was just 10 months old and would never return to Cody. He subsequently grew up in Arizona and Chico, California.

While living in the Vermont Square neighborhood of Los Angeles, he enrolled at Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled. He had already been expelled in 1928 from another high school. During his early life, Pollock explored Native American culture while on surveying trips with his father. He was also heavily influenced by Mexican muralists, particularly José Clemente Orozco, whose fresco Prometheus he would later call "the greatest painting in North America".

In 1930, following his older brother Charles Pollock, 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 had little influence on Pollock's work, but his rhythmic use of paint and his fierce independence were more lasting. In the early 1930s, Pollock spent a summer touring the Western United States together with Glen Rounds, a fellow art student, and Benton, their teacher.

Career (1936–1954)

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. In the summer, he went to Dartmouth College to study José Clemente Orozco's 3,200 square foot mural, “The Epic of American Civilization.” He later used paint pouring as one of several techniques on canvases of the early 1940s, such as Male and Female and Composition with Pouring I. After his move to Springs, New York, he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor and he developed what was later called his "drip" technique.

From 1938 to 1942 Pollock worked for the WPA Federal Art Project.

Pollock signed a gallery contract with Peggy Guggenheim in July 1943. He received the commission to create the 8-by-20-foot (2.4 by 6.1 m) Mural (1943) for the entry to her new townhouse. At the suggestion of her friend and advisor Marcel Duchamp, Pollock painted the work on canvas, rather than the wall, so that it would be portable. After seeing the big mural, the art critic Clement Greenberg wrote: "I took one look at it and I thought, 'Now that's great art,' and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced." The catalog introducing his first exhibition described Pollock's talent as "volcanic. It has fire. It is unpredictable. It is undisciplined. It spills out of itself in a mineral prodigality, not yet crystallized."

The unique technique

Pollock was introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936 at an experimental workshop operated in New York City. He later used paint pouring as one of several techniques on canvases of the early 1940s." After his move to New York, he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and he developed what was later called his drip technique.

By defying the convention 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.

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.


On August 11, 1956, at 10:15 p.m., Pollock died in a single-car crash in his Oldsmobile convertible. At the time, Krasner was visiting friends in Europe; she abruptly returned on hearing the news from a friend. In December 1956, four months after his death, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. A larger, more comprehensive exhibition of his work was held there in 1967. In 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate in London.

For the rest of her life, his widow Lee Krasner managed his estate and ensured that Pollock's reputation remained strong despite changing art world trends. The couple are buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs with a large boulder marking his grave and a smaller one marking hers.

Art market

In 1973, Number 11, 1952 (also known as Blue Poles) was purchased by the Australian Whitlam government for the National Gallery of Australia for US$2 million (A$1.3 million at the time of payment). At the time, this was the highest price ever paid for a modern painting. The painting is now one of the most popular exhibits in the gallery.

In November 2006, Pollock's No. 5, 1948 became the world's most expensive painting, when it was sold by Sotheby's for (price adjusted) US$163.8 million dollars. Another artist record was established in 2004, when No. 12 (1949), fetched $11.7 million. In 2012, Number 28, 1951, sold for $20.5 million—$23 million.

In 2013, Pollock's Number 19 (1948) was sold for a reported $58,363,750 during an auction that ultimately reached $495 million total sales in one night which Christie's reports as a record to date as the most expensive auction of contemporary art. In February 2016 it was reported that Number 17A sold for $200 million.

The Pollock-Krasner House and Studio is owned and administered by the Stony Brook Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of Stony Brook University. Regular tours of the house and studio occur from May through October.

List of major works

Pollock-Krasner House studio floor
Pollock's studio-floor in Springs, New York, the visual result of being his primary painting surface from 1946 until 1953

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jackson Pollock para niños

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