Jackson Pollock (1912-56)

Pollock embodies a place in modern art history quite unlike any other. A male artist who fitted (or was made to fit) the troubled artistic genius type, to a ‘T’, in the era that could well be described when the world saw America take off as the capital of the art world. Pollock stood at the forefront- was the figurehead, if you like, of the abstract expressionist movement. Although he was arguably the most famous protagonist of the movement, even today people find it hard to class his work as art (“its just dripping paint” …especially when it sells for so much).

He studied at the Manual Arts school (LA) from1925-1929, after which he went onto study under Benton at the Art Students League (NY). His famous drip painting technique did not develop until 1946, a year after marrying fellow artist Lee Krasner. His earlier work drew influences from “primitive” works, especially Indian art. Gombrich considers Pollock as the artist who “most of all” aroused our interest in the process of painting.

“Every good painter paints what he is”*

Under the light of this study I feel I am somewhat hinting that Pollock was anti-feminist, but what I mean to point out here is the assumptions that are unconsciously at work here- a) that painters are men and b)that art is autobiographical. It could therefore been seen as a comment that supposes good artwork to be about the male self- it perpetuates the myth of the great male artist.

Pollock by NamuthPicture of artist by Hans Namuth (1915-1990)

The film from which this image comes from, from certain feminist perspectives was seen as “the attempt to install the image of the artist as modern, as American, as masculine”**

Sources- Taschen’s Art of the 20th Century, (Part 1: Painting, p.788/9, 2000), *http://www.artquotes.net/masters/pollock_quotes.htm, E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art (p.602, 6th edition, 2002, Phaidon), http://www.npg.si.edu/img2/rebels/9500316c.jpg, **Griselda Pollock Cockfights and Other Parades, Oxford Art Journal (2003 26:2, p.141)

To try out Pollock’s technique in a clean environment: http://www.jacksonpollock.org/ (I wonder what the man himself would make of it…)


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