Jackson Pollock is a highly influential American artist whose unique style had a great impact on many modern artists.
Born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, Pollock moved to California with his family in 1925. He attended Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. After first taking an interest in sculpture, he quickly turned to painting as his primary artistic focus.
In 1929, Pollock moved to New York City in order to study at the Art Students League. His first exhibition was held in New York at the McMillan Gallery. Three years later he held a one man show at the Guggenheim Gallery. At this point, he received a contract from Peggy Guggenheim which allowed him to work as a full-time painter.
Pollock's early works were influenced by his interest in Mexican painters. By the 1930s, however, the impact of Surrealism can be felt in his work. Picasso's Surrealist-allied works were certainly an inspiration and an influence. Male and Female, Pollock's first masterpiece, demonstrates this influence and also hints at the artist's future style with its free brush strokes and broad composition.
In the 1940s, Pollock's art was being admired and sold to both public and private collections; his career was successful. Pollock married fellow artist Lee Krasner in 1944 and the couple moved to Long Island. In 1947, Pollock first began using the technique which would secure his place in the history of the development of modern art. This was called the 'drip' painting technique. Pollock would spread an unprimed canvas across his studio floor and attach it with pins. He would then walk across the canvas and, holding a can of paint in one hand and a brush in the other, drop and spread lines of paint seemingly without any figurative or compositional concerns. Pollock believed that in this way, he was able to connect emotionally and physically with his work. Autumn Rhythm is perhaps Pollock's greatest and best known work in this style.
In the first years of the 1950s, Pollock used only black paint. At this time, figurative images seemed to make a reappearance in his work, although the brushstrokes still appeared random. The images which emerged at this time were tortured and upsetting. In 1953, Pollock returned to abstraction as his primary style, but he seemed to be searching for a new direction. His artistic style varied from work to work.
It is impossible to know the next artistic direction Pollock would have taken if he had not died in a car accident in 1956. The great work the artist left behind does, however, secure his importance in the modern art world.