The Modern Artists Cafe
Action painting by AT in the style of Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, into an already large family. He was the youngest of five children, all boys, and his father (whose original surname was McCoy) and mother were both of Irish extraction. His father was orphaned at the age of three, and took the last name of his foster parents. Even though they were both raised Presbyterian, they chose to not raise their children with religion. Pollock’s family moved a lot during his childhood, mostly due to financial problems. His eldest brother Charles left home in 1924 to study art. He sent home magazines about art, which some art historians consider to be Pollock’s first encounter with art. Jackson went to stay with his brother in New York, in 1930, and decided to study art. He dropped his first name when he enrolled at the Art Students League in Thomas Hart Benson’s class.
Benton would grow to be one of the many great influences to Pollock. Others would include:
Jackson Pollock had a somewhat unheard-of way of painting, but the truth is, that the Chinese had been doing it for some time. Instead of using an easel, he placed the canvas on the floor, and painted from there. His style however, differed from the Chinese, in that he did not use brushes with the bristles on the canvas, but a stick, to sort of ‘fling’ the paint onto the canvas. When asked about his unusual technique, he said;
On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four sides, and be literally ‘in’ the painting.
Some of Jackson Pollock's most notable paintings include the following:
Jackson Pollock had a tremendous effect on modern art. A friend and patron once said about him;
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 contemplation. -Jackson Pollock A Biography
Pollock stated that;
The modern painter cannot express his age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. Each age finds it's own technique. -Materiality is the Message
Dripping and splattering paint on a canvas laying on the floor was Jackson Pollock's way to express his age. He expressed his feelings, his emotions, and what went on around him in his paintings, and did it all with a high level of individuality. His art can be recognized instantly, and, as one critic said as an attempted insult, "Forgery is impossible."
Pollock suffered from severe alcoholism. He had been receiving treatment off and on since 1937, when he went to see Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst and prolific author who explored the significance of universal archetypes of the collective unconscious. Jung’s theories were embraced by the abstract expressionists. Pollock stopped painting during the last few years of his life, due to drinking, and because he didn’t think he was touching anyone. In 1956, just twenty six years after moving to New York, he died there. In those twenty six years, he touched the hearts of many people with his paintings. His paintings, he once said, like any paintings, are like music; after you’re around them for long enough, you get the experience needed to know if they’re good or bad to you. -The Master of Drip