It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.
American painter Jackson Pollock was born in 1912 in Cody, Wyoming and faced the reaper in his Oldsmobile under the influence of alcohol in 1956. At the early phases of his career he was interested in sculpture but decided to focus on painting. Nowadays he’s considered as being the most notable figure in action and drip painting and one of the leading persons in abstract expressionist movement.
- 1912, January the 28th: Paul Jackson Pollock is born. He is the youngest son of Stella May (née McClure) and LeRoy Pollock.
- 1922: Jackson’s older brother Charles who is working with the Los Angeles Times, starts sending home issues of The Dial, an art magazine from which Jackson gains first knowledge of modern art.
- 1927: First experiences with alcohol.
- 1928: At Manual Arts High School (New York), Jackson attends the class of John de St. Vrain Schwandowsky, who introduces him to abstract art and the theosophical teachings of Krishnamurti and Rudolf Steiner.
- 1928-1929: Works two years with his father and brother Sanford as a geological surveyor in the Grand Canyon, in Arizona and in California.
- 1929(*): Enrolls the Art Students League and enters painting classes of Thomas Hart Benton. Moves in to New York.
- 1932: Moves in with his brother Charles and his wife Elizabeth.
- 1936: Participates in Siqueiros’s workshop Laboratory of Modern Techniques in Art.
- 1938 through 1941 Pollock underwent Jungian psychotherapy with Dr. Joseph Henderson and later with Dr. Violet Staub de Laszlo in 1941-1942. Henderson engaged him through his art, encouraging Pollock to make drawings. Jungian concepts and archetypes were expressed in his paintings.
- 1939: First important public appearance. at the MacMillar Gallery in New York.
- 1941: Meets Lee Krasner. Watches Navajo artists making sand paintings on the museum floor.
- 1942: Lee Krasner moves in with him.
- 1943: Paints one of his most important paintings for Peggy Guggenheims entrance hall. Mural is born (see image below).
- 1945: Krasner and Pollock are married in 25th of October.
- 1946: Participates in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum. Moves to East Hampton, Long Island with his wife.
- 1947: Inception of drip paintings.
- 1948: Pollock is succesfully treated for alcoholism by Dr. Edwin Heller.
- 1949: Article Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest living painter in the United States, is published in Life magazine.
- 1950: Hans Namuth photographs Pollock at work. Relapse into excessive drinking.
- 1954: Pollock ceases almost entirely to paint.
- 1956: Pollock has painting nothing in eighteen months and has gained a great deal of weight.
- 1956, August the 11th: Drunk at the wheel, he loses control of his Oldsmobile, crashes into a tree and dies. One of the two passengers die (Edith Metzger). Pollock’s lover Ruth Kligman survives but is seriously injured.
* Some discrepancies about the years of attending schools. At least Manual Arts School years are different in some bibliographical references.
Pollock can be seen as a rough, immediate and impulsive temperament, without the ability to integrate himself in society. Thomas Hart Benton was probably a paternal figure in his life – the connection that may have lacked due to his father’s introvert personality. Pollock eventually fell for alcoholism completely – which instantiated the process of destruction of life that he recreated in the act and the event of painting. Pollock remains a mystery man, who started the american abstract expressionism and invented action painting in a revolutionary way.
Drinking and dripping – Jackson lived up the american bad boy life like Ernest Hemingway. Maybe on purpose, maybe with no other way to deal with his existential emptiness. Nevertheless, his huge floor-painted canvases are amongst the most valued paintings in modern art, selling up to tens and hundreds of millions.
I say it is art.
P.S. Ed Harris does an extremely good job in acting Jackson Pollock in 1990 movie called Pollock. It was a long-time dream project of him. Paintings in the movie are made by Ed Himself!
- Maailman taide: nykytaide, 1981. Markku Valkonen, Olli Valkonen. ISBN-13: 9789510106198
- Jackson Pollock: 1912-1956, 2003. Leonhard Emmerling. ISBN-13: 9783822821329
- Pollock, 1971. Alberto Busignani. ISBN-13: 9780600369141