“My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the
unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance
of a hard surface. 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 from the
four sides and literally be in the painting." Jackson Pollock "I
continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as
easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and
dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other
foreign matter added." -Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and a major force in the Abstract Expressionist movement. Pollock's name is also associated with the introduction of the All-over style of painting which avoids any points of emphasis or identifiable parts within the whole canvas and therefore abandons the traditional idea of composition in terms of relations among parts. The design of Jackson Pollock's painting had no relation to the shape or size of the canvas, indeed in the finished work the canvas was sometimes docked or trimmed to suit the image. All these characteristics were important for the new American style painting which matured in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
It was Jackson Pollock who blazed an astonishing trail for other Abstract Expressionist painters to follow. De Kooning said, "He broke the ice'', an enigmatic phrase suggesting that Pollock showed what art could become with his 1947 drip paintings. He was married to noted abstract painter Lee Krasner. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. Jackson Pollock was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist, but had a volatile personality and struggled with alcoholism all of his life."
Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming on 28 January 1912. He was the fifth and youngest son of LeRoy McCoy Pollock and Stella McClure Pollock. The family left Cody when Pollock was less than a year old, and he was raised in Arizona and California. After a series of unsuccessful farming ventures, his father became a surveyor and worked on road crews at the Grand Canyon and elsewhere in the Southwest. Pollock, who sometimes joined his father on these jobs, later remarked that memories of the panoramic landscape influenced his artistic vision. It was at about this time that Jackson Pollock dropped his first name, Paul, and began using his middle name.
With the advent of the New Deal's work-relief projects, Jackson Pollock and many of his contemporaries were able to work as artists on the federal payroll. Under government aegis, Pollock enrolled in the easel division of the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project, which provided him with a source of income for nearly eight years and enabled him to devote himself to artistic development. Some of Pollock's WPA paintings are now lost, but those that survive, together with other canvases, drawings and prints made during this period, illustrate his complex synthesis of source material and the gradual emergence of a deeply personal pictorial language.
By the early 1940s, Native American motifs and other pictographic imagery played a central role in Jackson Pollock's compositions, marking the beginnings of a mature style. "When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. 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."
Although Jackson Pollock had first experimented with liquid paint in 1936, it would not become his primary medium until more than ten years later. Jackson Pollock began painting with his canvases laid out on the studio floor, and developed what was later called his "drip" technique. The drip technique required paint with a fluid viscosity so Pollock turned to then new synthetic resin-based paints, called alkyd enamels. Jackson Pollock used hardened brushes, sticks and even basting syringes as paint applicators. Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint is thought to be one of the origins of the term action painting. With this technique, Pollock was able to achieve a more immediate means of creating art, the paint now literally flowing from his chosen tool onto the canvas.
By defying the conventional way of painting on an upright surface, Jackson Pollock added a new dimension, literally, by being able to view and apply paint to his canvases from all directions. Pollock's radical breakthrough was accompanied by a period of sobriety lasting two years, during which he created some of his most beautiful masterpieces, allowing the imagery to evolve spontaneously, without preconceptions. Pollock described this technique as "direct" painting " and likened it to American Indian sand painting. Jackson Pollock maintained, however, that the method was "a natural growth out of a need," and that its only importance was as "a means of arriving at a statement." The character and content of that statement were then and remain controversial, subject to widely varying interpretations--which is why Pollock's art has retained its vitality in spite of changing tastes.
In the process of making paintings in this way Jackson Pollock moved away from figurative representation, and challenged the Western tradition of using easel and brush, as well as moving away from use only of the hand and wrist; as he used his whole body to paint. In 1956 Time magazine dubbed Jackson Pollock "Jack the Dripper" as a result of his unique painting style.