Jackson Pollock

Paul Jackson Pollock (January 28, 1912 – August 11, 1956) was an influential American painter and a major force in the abstract expressionist movement. He died in a car accident near his home in Long Island, New York.

The youngest of five sons, Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, and grew up in Arizona and California, studying at Los Angeles' Manual Arts High School. In 1930, 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 influence on Pollock's formative work can be seen in his use of curvilinear undulating rhythms and in the use of rural American subject matter.

Pollock's early representational work was influenced by Benton, and the Mexican Muralists Siqueiros and Orozco. He worked in Siqueiros's experimental workshop in New York City in 1936. After visiting exhibitions of Picasso and Surrealist Art, his work became increasingly symbolic. He worked on the WPA Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943. Pollock's first solo show was held at the Peggy Guggenheim The Art of This Century Gallery in New York in 1943.

Pollock had for several years been treated by psychiatrists for alcoholism and depression and this gave him an interest in Carl Jung's theory of primitive archetypes that formed the basis of his work between 1938 and 1944. These works were often enigmatic and were not well received at first.

In October 1945 Pollock married his long term lover Lee Krasner and in November they moved to Springs on Long Island, New York. Their home in Springs was typical of the area, a wood-frame house with a nearby barn that Pollock made into a studio. It was there that he perfected the technique of working spontaneously with liquid paint. 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, he began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and developed what was later called his "drip" technique, although "pouring" is a more accurate description of his method. He used hardened brushes, sticks and even basting syringes as paint applicators. Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term action painting.

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 used his whole body to paint. In 1956 Time magazine dubbed Pollock "Jack the Dripper" as a result of his unique painting style.
“ 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.”

Pollock observed Indian sandpainting demonstrations in the 1940s. Other influences on his pouring technique include the Mexican muralists and also Surrealist automatism. Pollock 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.

In 1950 Hans Namuth, a young photographer, wanted to photograph and film Pollock at work. Pollock promised to start a new painting especially for the photographic session, but when Namuth arrived, Pollock apologized and told him the painting was finished. Namuth's comment upon entering the studio:
“ A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor. . . . There was complete silence. . . . Pollock looked at the painting. Then, unexpectedly, he picked up can and paint brush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster and more dance like as he flung black, white, and rust colored paint onto the canvas. He completely forgot that Lee and I were there; he did not seem to hear the click of the camera shutter. . . My photography session lasted as long as he kept painting, perhaps half an hour. In all that time, Pollock did not stop. How could one keep up this level of activity? Finally, he said 'This is it.' ”
“ Pollock’s finest paintings… reveal that his all-over line does not give rise to positive or negative areas: we are not made to feel that one part of the canvas demands to be read as figure, whether abstract or representational, against another part of the canvas read as ground. There is not inside or outside to Pollock’s line or the space through which it moves…. Pollock has managed to free line not only from its function of representing objects in the world, but also from its task of describing or bounding shapes or figures, whether abstract or representational, on the surface of the canvas. (Karmel 132) ”

Pollock's most famous paintings were during the "drip period" between 1947 and 1950. He rocketed to popular status 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.

Pollock's work after 1951 was darker in color, often only black, and began to reintroduce figurative elements. Pollock had moved to a more commercial gallery and there was great demand from collectors for new paintings. In response to this pressure his alcoholism deepened.

After struggling with alcoholism his whole life, Pollock's career was cut short when he died in an alcohol-related, single car crash in Springs, New York on August 11, 1956 at the age of 44. One of his passengers, Edith Metzger, died, and the other passenger in the Oldsmobile convertible, his girlfriend Ruth Kligman, survived. After his death, his wife Lee Krasner managed his estate and ensured that his reputation remained strong in spite of changing art-world trends.

Pollock and Krasner had no children. They are buried in Green River Cemetery in Springs. Their Springs house and studio is owned by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation which is administered by State University of New York at Stony Brook which schedules tours of the studio. Its immediate Springs neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2000 a biographical film titled Pollock was made about his life. Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Lee Krasner. The movie was the project of Ed Harris who portrayed Pollock and directed it. He was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor.

In November 2006 Pollock's "No. 5, 1948" became the world's most expensive painting, when it was auctioned to an undisclosed bidder for the sum of $140,000,000. The previous owner was film and music-producer David Geffen.

An ongoing debate rages over whether 24 paintings and drawings found in a Wainscott, New York locker in 2003 are Pollock originals. Physicists have argued over whether fractals can be used to authenticate the paintings. The debate is still inconclusive.

Pollock's work has always polarized critics and has been the focus of many important critical debates.

Harold Rosenberg spoke of the way Pollock's work had changed painting, "what was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The big moment came when it was decided to paint 'just to paint.' The gesture on the canvas was a gesture of liberation from value — political, aesthetic, moral."

Clement Greenberg supported Pollock's work on formalistic grounds. It fitted well with Greenberg's view of art history as being about the progressive purification in form and elimination of historical content. He therefore saw Pollock's work as the best painting of its day and the culmination of the Western tradition going back via Cubism and Cézanne to Monet.

Posthumous exhibitions of Pollock's work had been sponsored by the Congress for Cultural Freedom, an organization to promote American culture and values backed by the CIA. Certain left wing scholars, most prominently Eva Cockcroft, argue that the U.S. government and wealthy elite embraced Pollock and abstract expressionism in order to place the United States firmly in the forefront of global art and devalue socialist realism. In the words of Cockcroft, Pollock became a 'weapon of the Cold War'.

Painter Norman Rockwell's work Connoisseur also appears to make a commentary on the Pollock style. The painting features a what seems to be a rather upright man in a suit standing before a Jackson Pollock splatter painting. The contrast between the man and the Pollock painting, along with the construction of the scene, seems to emphasize the disparity between the comparatively unrecognizable Jackson Pollock style and traditional figure and landscape based art styles, as well as the monumental changes in the cultural sense of aesthetics brought on by the modern art movement.

Feminists criticized the machismo surrounding abstract expressionism, seeing Pollock's work in particular as the acting out of the phallocentric male fantasy on the symbolically supine canvas.

Other critics, such as Craig Brown, have been astonished that decorative "wallpaper," essentially brainless, could gain such a position in art history alongside Giotto, Titian, and Velazquez.

Reynolds News in a 1959 headline said, "This is not art — it's a joke in bad taste."

* Paul Simonon, bassist from the english punk rock band The Clash who had previously attended to art school, said "he had based their first -revolutionary- clothes designs primarly on Pollock's work."
* Mancunian rock band The Stone Roses adorned their eponymous debut album with a Pollock-style painting by guitarist John Squire, with similar paintings appearing on their instruments and early singles covers. Pollock and his work also served as the inspiration behind several songs ("Full Fathom Five" and Made Of Stone). The song "Going Down" also features the cryptic line "Yeah, she look like a painting / Jackson Pollock's, Number 5." which is a subtle reference to cunnilingus, the focus of the song.
* In an episode of Daria, "Daria's Dance Party," Jane Lane (in preparation for a dance) paints the school gymnasium in honor of Pollock's untimely death.
* A 1989 episode of the show Unsolved Mysteries featured a group of scientists exhuming Pollock's grave and examining his corpse for signs of foul play relating to his death. No conclusive results were found, since worms had eaten his body.
* In an episode of Entourage, Seth Green remarks that he blasted character Eric's girlfriend "in the face like a Jackson Pollock."
* Pollock is mentioned briefly in the lyrics ("Now who you know leave the scene messier than canvases by Jackson Pollock throwin' multi-colored thoughts at a rapid pace") of the song "To Bob Ross With Love" by the Gym Class Heroes.
* In the 2000 thriller, The Skulls, starring Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker, Jackson's female counterpart (played by Leslie Bibb) refers to her senior thesis, an animatronic device which via the implementation of various projectiles, spraying, and a prearranged canvas creates a totally random "work-of-art," as "Action Jackson," named after Jackson Pollock.
* In an episode of Mike Hammer, Private Eye, Hammer gets into his bed, only to find someone else in it. He draws his gun and says "You make another move, I'll Jackson Pollock your brains all over the wall."
* Pollock is also referred to in the lyrics to the song "Palace & Main" by Swedish alt-rock group Kent.
* A public bench fashioned in his style is dedicated to Pollock on the 200 block of West Second Street in Chico, California. For a time Pollock lived in Chico.
* Pollock (and the abstract expressionism movement) is featured prominently in the Kurt Vonnegut book Bluebeard.
* In the videogame Enter the Matrix, a man pointing a pistol at Niobe announces "Anyone moves, and her brains are a Jackson Pollock."
* In Miami Vice Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) tells the drug trafficker they are meeting with that if he doesn't cooperate its going to look like Jackson Pollock made the wallpaper in the room they are meeting.
* Woody Allen used a Pollock painting (actually not visible on camera) as the catalyst for a joke about optimism and despair in the 1972 film Play It Again, Sam.
* On an episode of Red Dwarf, Lister tells of barfing off of the Eifel Tower and creating a "Jackson Pollock", later, Kryton the robotic butler, gets drunk and declares that he, too, will create a "Jackson Pollock."
* In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, Julia Robert's character takes her class to see a Jackson Pollock painting.
* Pollock is referred to in the lyrics of the song "Rock'n'Roll Nigger" by the Patti Smith Group.

List of major works:

* (1942) Male and Female Philadelphia Museum of Art
* (1942) Stenographic Figure Museum of Modern Art
* (1943) Mural University of Iowa Museum of Art
* (1943) Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle
* (1942) Stenographic Figure Museum of Modern Art
* (1943) The She-Wolf Museum of Modern Art
* (1943) Blue (Moby Dick) Ohara Museum of Art
* (1945) Troubled Queen Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
* (1946) Eyes in the Heat Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
* (1946) The Key Art Institute of Chicago
* (1946) The Tea Cup Collection Frieder Burda
* (1946) Shimmering Substance, from The Sounds In The Grass Museum of Modern Art
* (1947) Full Fathom Five Museum of Modern Art
* (1947) Cathedral
* (1947) Enchanted Forest Peggy Guggenheim Collection
* (1948) Painting
* (1948) Number 5 (4ft x 8ft) Collection David Martínez
* (1948) Number 8
* (1948) Summertime: Number 9A Tate Modern
* (1949) Number 3
* (1949) Number 10 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
* (1950) Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) National Gallery of Art
* (1950) Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950 Metropolitan Museum of Art
* (1950) One: Number 31, 1950 Museum of Modern Art
* (1950) No. 32
* (1951) Number 7 National Gallery of Art
* (1952) Convergence Albright-Knox Art Gallery
* (1952) Blue Poles: No. 11, 1952 National Gallery of Australia
* (1953) Portrait and a Dream
* (1953) Easter and the Totem The Museum of Modern Art
* (1953) Ocean Greyness
* (1953) The DeepPermission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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