Jackson Pollock. Maybe you’ve heard the name, but are unfamiliar who he was.
Born on January 28, 1912, Paul Jackson Pollock was a well known American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist genre. He was famous for his unique style of drip painting. Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912, the youngest of five sons, and grew up in Arizona and Chico, California. While living in Echo Park, California, he enrolled at Los Angeles’ Manual Arts High School, from which he was expelled. He already had been expelled in 1928 from another high school. Pollocks father was a surveyor, and early on in his life while on surveying trips together, Jackson explored Native American culture .
In 1930, following his older brother Charles Pollock, he moved to New York City where Jackson studied at The Art Students League in New York, under Thomas Hart Benton. Although Benton’s rural landscape subject matter had little influence on Jackson’s art work, Pollock often said that Benton’s traditional teachings gave him something to rebel against. Jackson had been more intrigued by the artistic style of the ethnic indian of the American southwest. This stands to reason if one watches the way American Indians produce their sand paintings and the way Pollock manipulates his paint drips, both of their methodologies are very similar.
Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety as a major artist of his generation, though he sold very little of his art work during his lifetime. The über high prices that his paintings are fetching today came about several years after his death in 1956. Regarded as reclusive, he was a loose cannon mentally, and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life.
Pictured above: Jackson Pollock’s “One: Number 31, 1950″on display at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Jackson was all about his painting. His priority was his art, and his wife took second place. Pollock’s work also helped make the United States take center stage of the international contemporary art scene at that time. Being among the abstract expressionists group, Jackson and many other artists lived somewhat of a Hemingway existence where they hung out together and drank heavily, and had no “wifey” chaperones in attendance.
The abstracts expressionists were described as being “…strong, ugly men….they weren’t cutie pies at all.” In other words, they were real men, hetero and alpha. This was also during a time just post WWII where men were expected to saddle up and start having families, because unlike today, back then having families was a good thing. Most certainly during this era artists were considered outsiders, perhaps one might argue they were among the very first MGTOWers of their day.
“Blue Poles, 1952”
“Number 14: Gray”
The Youtube documentary mentions that “Jackson looked to women for support” which is typical feminist-bent journalism. Indeed he had women in his life, but he always had them on his terms. He cheated on his wife literally right in front of her. He’d make out with his mistress in his wife’s presence in their house. He drank a LOT, and I think his ultimate mistress was the sauce. Sadly, Jackson Pollock died on August 11, 1956, at age 44, in a car accident while driving heavily intoxicated.
For many, the paintings of Jackson Pollock are the emperor’s new clothes when one considers the prices that his works are commanding at the auction houses today. Jackson is among the big ticket names in art and his paintings are selling in the tens of millions. As time progresses for me, I at least can respect the evolution of his artistic style that he took during his life. One has to follow the proceeding history to understand where he is coming from, and this is best portrayed in a scene in the movie “Pollock” where he is drinking with his artists cohorts, and states “We gotta break through this shit!”