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Art History: Celebrating Abstract Impressionist Jackson Pollock

by Tracey A. Maine on January 28, 2020

Abstract Impressionist painter Jackson Pollock was born in 1912. He was the son of struggling Wyoming farmer and his wife who nurtured each of her five sons’ artistic abilities.

The Pollock Family also lived in Arizona and California where Jackson first began his training to become an artist at Manual Arts High School. However, Pollock’s rebellious attitude and inability to follow the rules soon motivated his instructors to expel him.

In 1930, an eighteen-year old Pollock moved to New York City to attend the Art Students League with one of his brothers. There they studied under celebrated painter and muralist Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975).

Under Benton’s tutelage Pollock began to develop his own unique dark style of painting that became part of the Realistic Modern Art Movement.  His work combined elements of Navajo sand paintings, Asian calligraphy, and his own personal revelations from his psychotherapy sessions.

During the 1930s and early 1940s, Pollock began creating art for the Federal Arts Project.  There, he worked alongside Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) and his style evolved from regionalism into abstract expressionism. 

In 1943 Pollock had his first solo exhibition at socialite/art patron Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery. Two years later he moved to Long Island and married fellow artist Lee Krasner (1908-1984).

His artistic breakthrough came courtesy of Pollock’s radical "poured" paintings.  These were created by literally dripping and flinging different layers of paint over a large canvas placed on the floor. Some of Pollock’s most famous works during this period include The She-Wolf (1943), Mural (1943), No. 5 (1948) and Lavender Mist (1950).

The following video offers an example of Pollock’s unique style of painting: 

Although Pollock achieved commercial success both his personal and professional lives were dramatically impacted by his increasing dependency on alcohol and deteriorating mental state. Pollock passed in 1956 as the result of a tragic car accident not far from his home in Springs, NY.. 

His turbulent life, marriage and meteoric rise to fame was chronicled in the Academy Award-Winning film “Pollock” (2000) starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden.

Where can I learn more about art and art history?

Anyone interested in art and art history should consider enrolling in Hocking College’s Art & Design program. In only two years students can graduate with their Associate of Applied Business in Art & Design degree.

Advantages of getting a degree in art and design

One of the many advantages of getting this degree is the wide range of career options degree holders will have to choose from. The following are a few of the job titles graduates of Hocking College’s Art & Design program will be qualified to pursue:

  • Fine Artist
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Ceramicist
  • Commercial Designer
  • Gallery Associate
  • Glassblower
  • Museum Curator
  • Photographer
  • Graphic Designer

To find out more information about Hocking College’s Art & Design program contact Program Manager Whitney Goller by email at gollerw@hocking.edu or by phone at (740) 753-6425.

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