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Jackson Pollock in his barn studio, summer-fall 1950. The picture credit is Hans Namuth. ©1998 Hans Namuth Ltd.
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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, Wyoming.
Number 8, (1949); Oil, enamel and aluminum paint on canvas; Neuberger 
Museum, State University of New York; sunsite.unc.edu/wm/paint/auth/pollock/
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" process.
Lavender Mist: Number 1 (1950); Oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on 
canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; lonestar.texas.net/~mharden/artchive/P/pollock.html
11 August 1956, died in East Hampton, New York.

WWW sites
Picasso is a stunning web site.
Abstract 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 his art.
  • Jackson 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.
  • Jackson Pollock from the Artchive list of images.
  • The Museum of Modern Art has its 1998 exhibition to Pollock (website is being redesigned).
Some specific paintings include:
  • Cathedral (1947)
  • Number 14 (1951)
  • Number 32 (Duco on canvas, 269 x 457.5 cm; in the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf)
  • Male and Female (1942, oil on canvas, 73 1/4 x 49 inches; in the Philadelphia Museum of Art)
  • The Moon-Woman (1942, oil on canvas, 69 x 43 inches; in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice)
  • Stenographic Figure (1942, oil on canvas, 40 x 56 inches; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City)
  • Blue (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)
  • Guardians 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 Art)
  • The She-Wolf (1943, oil, gouache, and plaster on canvas, 41 7/8 x 67 inches; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City)
  • Eyes in the Heat (1946, oil on canvas, 54 x 43 inches; in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice)
  • The Key (1946, oil on canvas, 59 x 84 inches; in the Art Institute of Chicago)
  • Shimmering Substance (1946, oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 24 1/4 inches; in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City)
  • Full Fathom Five (1947, oil on canvas with nails, tacks, buttons, coins, cigarettes, etc, 129 x 76.5 cm (50 7/8 x 30 1/8 inches))
  • No. 1 (1949, enamel and metallic paint on canvas, 63 x 102 inches; in the Rita and Taft Schreiber Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles)
  • Number 8, 1949 (Detail. 1949, oil, enamel, and aluminum paint on canvas; in the Neuberger Museum, State University of New York)
  • Lavender 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)
  • Number 7 (1950, enamel on cardboard; in the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien)
  • Convergence (1952, oil on canvas, 93 1/2 x 155 inches; in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY)
  • Ocean Grayness (1953, oil on canvas, 57 3/4 x 90 1/8 inches; in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York)
  • Easter 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).


Recommended Books
There are many works devoted to Pollock.
  • Biographies and interpretive monographs include:
    • 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 Landan, 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 York, 1967)
    • Bryan Robertson, Jackson Pollock (1960)
    • Frank O'Hara, Jackson Pollock (New York, 1959)
  • 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)

Related Events
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