An overview of
Jackson Pollock’s style
Considered one of the most Influential American Painters of all time
In Pollock’s most famous works, there is no recognizable subject
Used elements of Surrealism & Abstract painting
Helped redefine modern art in America
A pioneer in “Expressionism” which is a kind of art that instead of
representing something or a figure, Expressionism represents
emotions, feelings & ideas through non-representational forms.
Pollock’s drip paintings are complex, highly textured compositions
with multiple coats of dripped and poured paint.
Jackson Pollock’s Early Years
Born Paul “Jackson” Pollock January 28, 1912 in Wyoming
Pollock believes his appreciation for America’s landscapes and natural
beauty was because of the exposure he had as a young child traveling
The youngest of 5 brothers
Parents were both struggling farmers, moving around the Midwest and
Pollock Family eating watermelon in Arizona1914
1918 family portrait of the Pollock Family (bottom left)
His mother encouraged him to pursue his love for the arts.
Pollock was expelled from his High School & Los Angeles’ Manual
Arts High School for his moody and rebellious behavior.
1929 Pollack followed his dream of studying art with his brother at the
Art School League in NYC.
He would watch Native American dances and ceremonies when living
in Arizona, this also had a huge influence on his work.
Pollock’s High School Photo
Jackson & Charles Pollock at The Art School League NYC 1930
Pollock’s Early Influences
Thomas Hart Benton was a huge influence in Pollock’s early work.
Many noticed the similarities in style and often compared Jackson
Pollack’s early work Going West (1935) to Benton’s Arts of the
Benton apparently used Jackson Pollock as the model for harmonica
player in Arts of the West. Going West, was Pollock’s take of his
family always packing and moving from state to state.
Benton painted with oils, teaching technique in drawing and mural
painting to Pollock.
Jackson Pollock Going West (1935)
Thomas Benton Arts of the West (1932)
Mexican Influences on Early Mural Work
The Soldiers of Zapata 1966 mural by José David Alfaro
La Trinchera, 1926, by Jose Clemente Orozco
The above Mexican artists
Jackson Pollock’s work below
Figures in a Landscape 1937 Lithograph
by Jackson Pollock
“Part Of Diego Rivera’s Mural
Depicting Mexico History”
by Diego Rivera
Landscape with Steer 1937 by Jackson Pollock
Pollock’s Artistic Challenges & Struggles...
Despite Pollock’s love of creating art, he was not particularly strong at
drawing or painting.
He was often frustrated and exhibited rebellious behavior.
Pollock often produced unfinished work where his sadness was easily
self portrait 1930
by Jackson Pollock
The Great Depression leads to amazing
opportunity for American Artists
During The Great Depression, there were very few jobs
available in America. The US Government established the
Federal Art Project to employ out-of-work artists.
From 1938-1942, Pollock participated in this program,
creating art work to appear in public places such as school,
hospitals, banks & libraries, in exchange for a salary.
Pollock took advantage of free classes offered to artists and
it was here that he learned about painting using different
materials: spray bottles, airbrushes, sticks.
He also learned how to be spontaneous - and that it was ok
not having to sketch all the time, instead painting directly on
Pollock finds his style
By 1940, Pollock was painting completely abstract - the term “drip &
splash” was coined because of his art.
Instead of using a traditional easel, he would affix the canvas to the
Paint would drip, or be poured by use of sticks, knives, sand, broken
glass and anything else of interest to Pollock
“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 the
four sides and literally be in the
Pollock at Work
“The method of
painting is the natural
growth out of a need. I
want to express my
feelings rather than
Technique is just a
means of arriving at a
statement.... I can
control the flow of
paint: there is no
accident, just as there
is no beginning and no
Some of Pollock’s
Eyes and Heat 1946
Number 8, 1949
Personal life of Jackson Pollock
In 1945, Pollock married fellow artist Leonore (Lee) Krasner
Pollack would use the barn behind their home as his studio
They moved to what is now known as “The Pollock-Krasner House &
Studio” in East Hampton, NY (on Long Island).
Home (above) and Barn/Studio (below)
Pollack & Krasner
Pollock & Krasner Studio
is still open for
tours in East
Later Years of Jackson Pollock
Pollock began to number his work (in no particular order) instead of
naming each painting
He didn’t create much art the last few years of his life because he
believed he was no longer touching people
Jackson Pollock died in 1956, he was 44 years old.
An example to
show the size
Shimmering Substance, 1946
Number 19, 1948
Number 4, 1950
Lavender Mist, 1950
What the critics say...
Art Historians have said, “Pollock’s paintings are meant to make you think of a wild tribe
dance, or a piece of music.”
Aug. 8, 1949, Life Magazine ran an article that inquired, "Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest
living painter in the United States?"
Art critic Clement Greenberg said, “he took one look at the painting and realized that Jackson
was the greatest painter this country has produced."
Artist Alfonso Ossorio said, "Here I saw a man who had both broken all the traditions of the
past and unified them, who had gone beyond cubism, beyond Picasso and surrealism,
beyond everything that had happened in art....his work expressed both action and
Time Magazine mocked Pollock’s work by calling him “Jack the Dripper”
Art Critic Robert Cotes said “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore
Jackson Pollock’s art today
During Pollock’s lifetime, he never made much money from his
painting and never showed his work outside of America.
However, after he died, Pollock’s art has been selling for millions all
over the world.
In 2006, one of Pollock’s painting’s “No. 5, 1948” sold for 140 million
dollars, setting a new record for the most money ever paid for a
Museum of Modern Art in New York City has the largest collection of
Jackson Pollock’s work on display today
No. 5, 1948