Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. His most notable artworks are his unique style, drip paintings. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed a considerable amount of fame and notoriety and was a major artist of his generation.

Pollock was born in Wyoming, USA, in 1912, throughout his childhood he experienced a lot of Native American culture whilst taking trips with his father which later influenced his artwork. In 1929, Jason Pollock studied at the Student’s League in New York under regionalist painter, Thomas Hart Benton who inspired his artwork alongside certain aspects of Surrealism.

Pollock creating one of many Drip paintings. Credit: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Pollock was first introduced to the use of liquid paint in 1936 at an experimental workshop in New York City, he later used paint pouring as one of several techniques on canvases of the his early ‘40’s artwork such as Male and Female and Composition of Pouring I. Pollock then started painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor or against the wall, rather than being fixed to an easel, and he developed what was later called his ‘drip technique’. This technique used a style where he would allow the paint to drip from the can instead of using a traditional paint brush.


Composition of Pouring II. Credit: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Pollock’s most famous paintings were made during his ‘drip period’. He rocketed to fame following a four-page spread in Life magazine in 1949 with the headline ‘Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?’. At the peak of his fame, Pollock abruptly abandoned his drip style after he started to question the direction and reception of his art. Pollock’s work from then on was darker in colour, including a collection painted in black on canvases. These paintings; referred to as his ‘Black Pourings’, were exhibited at a gallery in New York, and resulted in a failure to sell. Due to the lack of interest in the change of style, Pollock went back to his coloured paintings.

Number 31 Drip Painting. Credit: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

In the ‘60’s, Pollock was viewed as one of the most important figures in the art world. Like many other famous artists before him, Pollock suffered in his personal life, including a problem with alcoholism which resulted in his premature death involving a car crash. Four month after his death, he was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. To this day, Pollock is known as the leader of the most important 20th century American art movements. His risk taking and creative approach to life has led other artists to create with passion, as opposed to trying to follow set boundaries.

A classic drip painting by Pollock sold in America for £75 million. Credit: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

View Jackson Pollock’s artwork at The Tate London now.

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