Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock painting

Jackson Pollock painting, c. 1954

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American artist, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) is sometimes referred to as "the founder of Action Painting" He is best-remembered for his "drip" paintings.

  • He began studying art in 1929 under Thomas Hart Benton, and was influenced by the Mexican mural painters such as Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros.
  • His peers were Hans Hofmann, Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, and his wife, painter, Lee Kransner.
  • He is the best-known of the abstract expressionists.
  • He liked to place the canvas on the floor, and get "into" the painting, by walking around it and on it as if controlled by instinctive impulses.
  • He is known for energetically pouring and splashing paint across huge canvases.
  • He did not like paint brushes, but rather used sticks and pieces of material to swirl and drip the paint.
  • He also used sand for texture along with glass to smear and scratch the surface of the work.
  • The accident became a prime compositional element in his painting.
  • He was one of the first professional painters to use acrylic paint for its fast drying, bright colors, and flexible surface.
For more information on the artist and his work please view the recommended links below.

Quotes from the artist:

"On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting."

"When I am in a 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 fears about 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."

"You can't learn techniques and and then try to become a painter. Techniques are a result."

"Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source. They work from within."

"The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art."

"Every good painter paints what he is."

Recommended External Links

Jackson Pollock
Feature - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Consult for further information on the artist and his work. Authors: Barbara Moore, Head, Department of Education Publications, with contributions by Donna Mann, Department of Education Publications

Abstract Expressionism
WebMuseum, Paris. Consult for further information on the history of the style.