Paul Jackson Pollock (1912 – 1956) was an American abstract Expressionist painter. He defined drip painting.
Pollock was born in Wyoming, but grew up in Arizona and California, where he witnessed Native American culture first hand. In 1930 he followed his brother to study art in New York. His teacher was Brenton, who did not for long influenced Pollock’s subject matter, yet had lasting impact when it came to the rhythmic use of paint and the fierce independence. Pollock fought alcoholism his whole life. In an attempt to quit he underwent Jungian psychotherapy that too left lasting marks in his art.
In 1936 Pollock was introduced to paint pouring as a way to express himself. He perfected his famous dripping technique in his studio on Long Island. The unstretched canvas lays for this on the floor and the artist drips and pours paint from all angles as well as applies it with sticks and brushes and whatever means he can find. It leads to a more immediate means of creating art – very action orientated – in which the process how the art is created is at least as important as the finished piece itself.
He also started to only number his paintings instead of giving them titles. It was an attempt to make people look at them as what he thought they were: pure painting. Numbers expressed this for him as they were neutral.
Pollock abandoned dripping style at the height of his popularity in 1950 and moved to darker palettes and re-introduced figurative elements into his work while he worked with a more commercial orientated gallery. He died in 1956 in a one car accident while driving under the influence. His widow Lee Krasner kept his legacy alive.