Jackson Pollock

JACKSON POLLOCK 

By: Natalie Pompos

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jackson-pollock

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ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM

The Abstract Expressionism Movement emerged within New York throughout the 1940s and 1950s. The style emphasized emotional expression through creative spontaneous acts. Diverse styles were embraced and incorporated in the movement. Artists had freedom to convey attitudes without creative limitations. The movement was greatly shaped by the Surrealist style. The Abstract Expressionist era propelled the transition from Paris as the world’s contemporary art epicenter to a focus on New York City. Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning are recognized as the movement’s most prolific leaders.

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Early Years

On January 28, 1912, Paul Jackson Pollock ‘Jackson Pollock’ was born in Cody, Wyoming. He was the son of LeRoy Pollock a government funded land surveyor and farmer. Stella May McClure, his mother, was a talented artist who pursued her passion privately. He was a sibling to four older brothers. Throughout Pollock’s youth, he relocated a great deal; predominately amongst locations in California and Arizona. At the age of eight, his father, a reckless man crippled by alcoholism, abandoned the family. Charles, the eldest Pollock, became the family’s leader. Charles is noted as the family’s most artistically gifted member. His abilities are believed to have influenced his younger brother Jackson Pollock significantly.

During Pollock’s secondary school years, he was enrolled at Los Angeles based Manual Arts High School. The school provided few opportunities for Pollock to express himself creatively; however, provided him with an art-centered curriculum to establish a foundation. Unfortunately, he was unable to graduate due to an expulsion centered on his proclivity towards instigating brawls.

When Pollock turned 18 in 1930, he relocated to his brother Charles’ residence in New York City. Within New York City, he enrolled in art classes jointly with Charles. They were taught under the tutelage of prominent painter Thomas Hart Benton. Both brothers developed a very intimate relationship with Benton’s family.

The year 1933 marked a beginning demise of Pollock’s mental condition. At this time, Pollock’s father passed. Consequently, Pollack spiraled into a lethal state of depression. His depression fluctuated from bouts of moodiness to violent temper outbursts. A noted incident involved his threatening of his brother Charles’ wife with an axe. Despite not injuring Charles’ wife, Pollock decimated one of his brother’s unreleased paintings. By 1934, his physiological condition had yet to improve and continued into a perilous state. As a result, he was forced to leave Charles’ house and seek the support of his brother Stanford.

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Romantic Interests & Work Relations

Renowned Jewish painter Lee Krasner encountered Pollock in 1942. Both shared mutual admiration for one another’s work. Shortly after their first interaction, they garnered affectionate relations. In October of 1945, Pollock and Krasner married.

While Pollock was courting Krasner, he developed a professional relationship with Peggy Guggenheim. She discovered Pollock’s work when she was speaking with artist Pete Norman at his studio. Upon first sight, she became intrigued by his work. It is has been noted that at this time she commented that Pollock’s work was the most unique American work she had ever witnessed. Due to the impression Pollock’s work had upon her, she immediately got in contact with him.

Guggenheim became a great supporter of Pollock’s work and personal development. In October of 1945, Guggenheim sponsored a $2,000 loan for him to purchase a farmhouse and joint studio in East Hampton, New York. In addition, she allocated a work allowance and encouraged Krasner to promote her husband’s work.

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“Drip Period”

At Pollock’s farm set studio, he was able to immerse himself in nature. Ever since his youth, he had a great appreciation for the outdoors. The vast outdoor space permitted him to spread large-scale canvases around the property and work on his projects effectively. The ability to have large working spaces allowed him to hone his “drip” technique.

The years spanning between 1947 and 1950, are regarded as the “drip period.” This style involved the technique of allowing paint to literally “drip” off the application tool such as a brush, stick, or other implement. On August 8, 1949, Pollock was featured in a four-page article within Life magazine. The article posed the question, “Is he [Pollock] the greatest living painter in the United States?” With the publication of the article, Pollock became a sensation. While this led to increased value in his work, a myriad of professional opportunities, and newfound elevated prominence, he developed many critics. The legitimacy of his work was brought into question, and the visual appeal.

Despite receiving some negative attention, his success continued to grow. In 1949, his work was featured in the Betty Parsons Gallery. As a result of this even selling out, he earned the title as the highest paid avant-garde artist in The United States. Pollock’s achievements not only led to an increase in his financial holdings but also in his ego. He developed a superiority complex even over those who had supported and mentored him from his humble beginnings such as Benton. His successes also led to increased anxiety and promoted him to continue consuming large amounts of alcohol.

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Style Experimentation

In 1950, Pollock was featured in the Parsons gallery again. However, this showing was not as lucrative as the first. One the pieces within this exhibit was his famous “Number 4, 1950.” At this time, Pollock began to transition from figurative titles to numbers. Moreover, he began incorporating darker qualities. Most known at this time was his discarded his drip method and focused on black and white contrasting qualities.

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Demise

As time progressed, Pollock’s mental condition became incredibly concerning for those surrounding him. His relationship with Krasner began to crumble and in 1956 she relocated to Paris to create space between them. Furthermore, during this year, Pollock began fraternizing with other women.

Pollock died on August 11, 1956, shortly after 10:00 pm. While driving under the influence, he connected with a tree located under a mile from his residence. Within the vehicle, his lover Ruth Kligman accompanied him. Upon impact, she was thrust from the car and lived despite several injuries. However, Pollack and another passenger Edith Metzger were not so fortunate. Within the accident, Pollock was catapulted fifty feet skyward and impacted a birch tree that killed him instantly.

Following Pollock’s passing, Krasner returned to America. She lived on for 20 years and continued her painting career. She additionally, managed business interests of her deceased husband’s work. She established the Pollock-Krasner Foundation shortly before her passing to ensure future leaders in the art community could have the ability to receive grants to support their creativity. Krasner perished on June 19, 1984. After she died, the Pollock estate was valued greater than $20 million.

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Legacy

Following Pollock’s passing, Krasner returned to America. She lived on for 20 years and continued her painting career. She additionally, managed business interests of her deceased husband’s work. She established the Pollock-Krasner Foundation shortly before her passing to ensure future leaders in the art community could have the ability to receive grants to support their creativity. Krasner perished on June 19, 1984. After she died, the Pollock estate was valued greater than $20 million.

The two years following Pollock’s passing were marked by memorial exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Even decades after his death, Pollock remains one of the most prolific artists of all time. To this day, he is continuously featured at high profile exhibits throughout the world.

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Sampling of Work 

Eyes in the Heat  1946 (320 Kb); Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Eyes in the Heat
1946 (320 Kb); Oil on canvas, 54 x 43 in; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Shimmering Substance  1946 (280 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 24 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Shimmering Substance
1946 (280 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 24 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Shimmering Substance  1946 (280 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 24 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Shimmering Substance
1946 (280 Kb); Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 24 1/4 in; The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Male and Female  1942 (240 Kb); Oil on canvas, 73 1/4 x 49 in; Philadelphia Museum of Art

Male and Female
1942 (240 Kb); Oil on canvas, 73 1/4 x 49 in; Philadelphia Museum of Art

Blue (Moby Dick)  c. 1943 (150 Kb); Gouache and ink on composition board, 18 3/4 x 23 7/8 in; Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki

Blue (Moby Dick)
c. 1943 (150 Kb); Gouache and ink on composition board, 18 3/4 x 23 7/8 in; Ohara Museum of Art, Kurashiki

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21st Century Comparison 

– Kimber Mallett-

Kimber Mallett Printed Digital Media January 2012

Kimber Mallett
Printed Digital Media January 2012

Digital artist Kimber Mallett is renowned for her “tradigital” style. She incorporates established art movement techniques and develops them into technology influenced works. She utilizes ink paints overtop inkjet strips to create digital prints, and in order to develop hand pulled prints, she scans the images and then digitally alters the picture. Her drawings are the result of a series of scans and digital colourations.

The piece above incorporates many elements of the Abstract Expressionism Movement. Mallett’s application of the spontaneous emotional representation and non realistic portrayal connects well with Pollock’s work. Many of her works are an excellent example of a 21st Century application of Pollock’s style.

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Personal Reflection

I absolutely loved studying Jackson Pollock’s life and artistic pursuits. While I am saddened he lived such a troubled existence, his expression of the emotional turmoil he endured is undeniably remarkable. When I view his works, I feel a sense of immersion into his creations. I am engaged by the the layering of colours, placement of paint application, and design selection. I truly hope I will have the opportunity to view some of his work personally in the future. I am absolutely fascinated by his unique style. His work is my favourite that I have studied thus far.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have studied him!

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VIDEOS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT0SHjOowLA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfwUxQrDGqw

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Bibliography

“50 Things You Didn’t Know About Jackson Pollock.” Flavorwire. Jackson Pollock, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://flavorwire.com/145262/50-things-you-didnt-know-about-jackson-pollock&gt;.
“THE COLLECTION.” MoMA.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=4675&gt;.
“Guggenheim.” Collection Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/artists/bios/963&gt;.
“Jackson Pollock.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, 2014. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.biography.com/people/jackson-pollock-9443818&gt;.
“Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas, Original Design by Stamen, Press Any Key to S.” Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas, Original Design by Stamen, Press Any Key to S. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. <http://www.jacksonpollock.org/&gt;.
“New Work.” Kimber Mallett. Kimber Mallett, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www.kimberworld.com/&gt;.
“Pollock, Jackson.” WebMuseum. Jackson Pollock, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/pollock/&gt;.
“Pollock, Jackson.” WebMuseum:. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. <http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/pollock/&gt;.

 

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