Now that’s great art

jackson-pollockOn 28th January, 1912, the artist Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, the youngest of five sons. Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter and a major figure in the “Abstract Expressionist” movement and well-known for his unique style of ‘Drip Painting‘.  He was known as being a bit of a recluse, who struggled with alcoholism for many years. Pollock had an early fascination with Native American culture which he shared with his father, however, academically he had been expelled from two High Schools.

Pollock suffered from a long history with alcoholism and sought the help from Jungian psychotherapy during 1938-1941. It was during this time he was encouraged to draw through his problem.

Two years later, Pollock signed a gallery contract with Peggy Guggenheim in July 1943. He received the commission to create Mural (1943), a massive 8 feet tall x 20 feet long, for the entry to her new townhouse. At the suggestion of her friend and adviser Marcel Duchamp, Pollock painted the work on canvas, rather than on the wall, as it would be more portable. Apparently, when seeing this mural, art critic Clement Greenberg exclaimed:“I took one look at it and I thought, ‘Now that’s great art,’ and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced.”

In October 1945, Pollock married the American painter Lee Krasner. In November they moved out of the city to a wood-frame house and barn in the East Hampton area on the south shore of Long Island, which they converted into a studio. It was here that Pollock  perfected his famous “drip painting” technique.  Pollock’s most famous paintings were made during the “drip period” between 1947 and 1950. However, Pollock’s work after 1951 was darker in color, including a collection painted in black on unprimed canvases. In response to this pressure, along with personal frustration, his alcoholism deepened.

On August 11, 1956, at 10:15 pm, Pollock died in an alcohol-related, single-car crash in his Oldsmobile convertible while driving under the influence of alcohol. One of the passengers, Edith Metzger, was also killed in the accident, which occurred less than a mile from Pollock’s home. The other passenger, Ruth Kligman, an artist and Pollock’s mistress, at the time, survived.

In December 1956, several months after his death, Pollock was given a memorial retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. A larger, more comprehensive exhibition of his work was also held there in 1967. In 1998 and 1999, his work was honored with large-scale retrospective exhibitions at MoMA and at The Tate Gallery in London.

Despite his infidelities, both he and Krasner are buried together and their house-cum-studio is open to tour groups from May-October each year.

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