Jackson Pollock

Art Since 1945

10:00am MWF

Jackson Pollock didn’t invent the dripped paint method he perfected it. He was appropriately called “Jack the Dripper” by Time magazine. I believe that the abstract expressionists, who in post-war America changed the face of art, would not have had the significant impact on the art community without the creative genius of Pollock. His name would live on forever when in 1956 he tragically lost his life in a drunk driving automobile accident. Pollock lived the life of a success, while at the same time constantly doubted his abilities and talents as an artist.

His early work reflects the work of Thomas Hart Benton, his mentor, and the work of Pablo Picasso. It was this work that caught the attention of one of the most important art dealers of the day, Peggy Guggenheim. In 1943 she signed a contract with Pollock for a show, and commissioned a huge mural, which turned out to be his first large-scale work.

Rumor has it that Pollock destroyed the walls of his apartment in Greenwich Village in order to create a large enough working space for his massive 18 foot canvas. He proceeded to put the monumental project on hold for several months until, when running out of time, he painted the entire piece in one 15 hour sitting.

Lee Krasner may be the sole reason that we talk about Pollock today. She married Pollock in 1944. Without her undying support of her husband, Pollock may have never developed his fragile ego, and he may have never created any of the masterpieces that we know him for best today. Krasner was the true genius behind the man. She was the first to begin to cover the canvas with non-representational shapes and a flurry of marks. Because of her, Pollock was able to achieve so much. Krasner sacrificed her own career and her own painting because she realized that she was competing in a male dominant world. She channeled her creativity through Pollock, boosting his ego, and helping to produce a stimulating environment for him to create art in.

As Pollock was making a name for himself, the Abstract Expressionist movement was underway. Other artists were joining the movement challenging Pollock for the position atop the movement. Pressure began to build as Pollock’s ego and psyche were challenged. At the time, drinking heavily was just a part of the bigger picture, and so Pollock was sucked into a hole in which he could not paint himself out of. Around 1955 Pollock’s work ceased all together. Pollock’s only source of income was from the sale of his older work, and only amounted to approximately $10,000 annually. His relationship with Lee Krasner and many of his friends and sponsors fell victim to his addiction. Eventually Pollock would loose his war with the bottle, and fall victim himself.

Pollock overcame his self-destructive misguided behavior to create some of the most prolific and influential works of art of the 20th century. Pollock’s work spoke on a different level than most works. His work was laced with conflict and peace, vivid and dull color, and most importantly, structure and spontaneity. Though Pollock’s technique may seem unorthodox, he had more control over spilled and dripped paint than most do over brushed on paint. A stick was his brush, and from it, he created massive windows into his dark and twisted soul.

Lavender Mist: 1950

Lavender Mist is approximately 10 feet wide. This huge scale work was created using Pollock’s trademark drip painting technique in 1950 shortly before he slipped into a slump of very little production. He spattered darkly colored lines of varying size shape and thickness about the entire canvas. As one observes the work, the viewer’s eye is kept in constant motion always moving about the piece, always discovering something new. A closer look reveals Pollock’s handprints in the upper right hand corner, similar to that of cave painters who would “sign” their works in this way. The painting has a pale lavender tone, which remains very active and has an incredible amount of movement.

Full Fathom Five: 1947

Full Fathom Five can be described as a “creative accident.” It is one of Pollock’s first “drip paintings.” Where Pollock derived his technique and exactly where his idea for creating this work both remain a