How does Pollock's work mirror developments in Western
society after World War II?
Jackson Pollock (1912-56) was the key figure
in the postwar development of the Abstract Expressionist movement along with
Willem de Kooning (1904-97), Franz Kline (1910-62) and Mark Rothko (1903-1970).
These painters shared more a similar outlook on art rather than any
single, agreed-upon art techniques. They tended to feel ill at ease
with conventional subjects and styles, and they often tackled grand, moral
subjects with a sweeping lack of style in their experimentations with color,
texture and surface.
Pollock, born 28 January 1912 in Cody, Wyoming,
grew up in California and Arizona. At the age of eighteen, he moved
to New York City where he enrolled at the Art Students League where he studied
under the painter Thomas Hart Benton. In 1935 he started work on the
WPA Federal Art Project as a painter, and this provided him the opportunity
to develop his techniques. In 1937 he began psychiatric treatment for
alcoholism, and he briefly suffered a nervous breakdown in 1938. He
was subsequently under the care of psychoanalysts who used his own drawings
in therapy sessions. In 1943, Peggy Guggenheim contracted with Pollock
to hold his first showing at her Art of This Century Gallery in New York.
In 1945 he married Lee Krasner, a painter, and moved to East Hampton
on Long Island.
Pollock's first real breakthrough work dates
to 1943 with his first wall-size work, called "Mural." At this point
in time, he was already experimenting with numerous techniques, different
media and various surfaces. In 1947 he developed a new process that
involved the pouring, or dripping, of enamel or aluminum paint onto a flat
canvas in stages, often interrupted by long periods of time. The results
were huge canvases covered with intricate, "splattered" linear patterns.
A whole series of now famous paintings followed: "Full Fathom
Five," "Summertime," "Number Ten, 1949," "One," "Autumn Rhythm," "Lavender
Mist" and "Number Thirty-two, "1950." In 1951 and 1952 he painted almost
exclusively in black and white, before returning to color in 1952. His
last series of works dated to 1953 ("Portrait and a Dream," "Easter and the
Totem," "Ocean Greyness" and "The Deep"). By the time of his death
in a car accident in 1956, Pollock had exerted enormous influence on the
art scene in the U.S. and Europe.
28 January 1912, born in Cody,
1936, The term "abstract expressionism"
was first used in an article.
1943, Pollock's first one-man art show
in New York.
1945, Pollock married Lee Krasner.
1947, Pollock developed the "dripping"
11 August 1956, died in East Hampton,
Picasso is a stunning web site.
Expressionism is a definition from the WebMuseum, and Abstract
Expressionism (WWAR) is a metasite of resources from the Metropolitan
Museum of Art, Worldwide Arts Resources.
Most of the Pollock sites include images of
Some specific paintings include:
Pollock is an excellent hypertext essay from the WebMuseum that features
description of his style, including possible sources of his inspiration;
discussion of his role in twentieth-century American art; several paintings;
and detailed commentary.
Pollock from the Artchive list of images.
- The Museum of Modern Art has its
1998 exhibition to Pollock (website is being redesigned).
- Cathedral (1947)
32 (Duco on canvas, 269 x 457.5 cm; in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen,
and Female (1942, oil on canvas, 73 1/4 x 49 inches; in the Philadelphia
Museum of Art)
Moon-Woman (1942, oil on canvas, 69 x 43 inches; in the Peggy Guggenheim
Figure (1942, oil on canvas, 40 x 56 inches; in the Museum of Modern
Art, New York City)
(Moby Dick) (c. 1943, gouache and ink on composition board, 18 3/4 x
23 7/8 inches; in the Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki)
of the Secret (1943, oil on canvas, 122.9 x 191.5 cm (48 3/4 x 75 1/4
inches); in the Albert M. Bender Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern
She-Wolf (1943, oil, gouache, and plaster on canvas, 41 7/8 x 67 inches;
in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City)
in the Heat (1946, oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches; in the Peggy Guggenheim
Key (1946, oil on canvas, 59 x 84 inches; in the Art Institute of
1 (1949, enamel and metallic paint on canvas, 63 x 102 inches; in the
Rita and Taft Schreiber Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los
8, 1949 (Detail. 1949, oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on canvas; in
the Neuberger Museum, State University of New York)
Mist: Number 1, 1950 (1950, oil on canvas, oil, enamel, and aluminum
on canvas, 221 x 300 cm (7 feet 3 inches x 9 feet 10 inches); in the National
Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)
7 (1950, enamel on cardboard; in the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig
- Convergence (1952, oil on canvas, 93 1/2 x 155 inches; in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery,
Grayness (1953, oil on canvas, 57 3/4 x 90 1/8 inches; in the Solomon
R. Guggenheim Museum, New York)
and the Totem (1953, oil on canvas, 84 1/4 x 58 inches; in the Museum
of Modern Art, New York City)
There is an image of Jackson
Pollock at work, and you can read "Pollock Paints a Picture," an article by Robert Coodnough from Art News (May 1951), or the CNN story, with
images, about the opening of an exhibit of Jackson Pollock's sketches at the Met.
If you would like to try painting like Jackson Pollock, try this interactive site, www.jacksonPollock.org/ (move your mouse cursor; clicking will change colors).
There are many works devoted to Pollock.
- Biographies and interpretive monographs
- Claude Cernuschi, Jackson Pollock: Meaning
and Significance (New York, 1992)
- Robert Steiner, Toward a Grammar of Abstraction:
Modernity, Wittgenstein, and the Paintings of Jackson Pollock (University Park, 1992)
- Ellen Landau, Jackson Pollock (1989)
- Deborah Solomon, Jackson Pollock: A
Biography (New York, 1987)
- Elizabeth Frank, Jackson Pollock (1983)
- Bernard Friedman, Jackson Pollock: Energy
Made Visible (New York, 1972)
- Alberto Busignani, Pollock (1971)
- Francis O'Connor, Jackson Pollock (New
- Bryan Robertson, Jackson Pollock (1960)
- Frank O'Hara, Jackson Pollock (New York,
- Edited collections include:
- Francis O'Connor and Eugene Thaw, eds., Jackson
Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works (New Haven, 1978), 4 vols.
- Primary sources include:
- Jeffrey Potter, ed. To a Violent Grave: An
Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock (New York, 1985)
- Ruth Kligman, Love Affair: A Memoir
of Jackson Pollock (New York, 1974)
- Hans Namuth, L'atelier de Jackson Pollock:
essais de Rosalind Krauss & Francis V. O'Connor, les textes de
Jackson Pollock (Paris: Macula/Pierre Brochet, 1978)
Willem de Kooning