Jackson Pollock is a famous artist well known for his great talent in painting. He was the youngest in his family (Pollock 11), born on January 28th, 1912 in Cody, Wyoming. Thomas Benton was his tutor, taught him the basics of painting and influenced most of his early works. Later on, he was no longer in love with traditional art, left the traditional art and explored other ways of art. His works are distinct, timeless and not affected by cultural shifts hence Jackson Pollock is considered a legend. His standout artwork brought about great changes to the art industry and widened the scope of painting. This paper aims to bring to fore what really influenced the artist’s new form of expression. It will also examine the way and manner Pollock affected the direction of art in general. Lastly, it will explain why he is considered a genius.
Pollock’s work was influenced by various aspects that led him to his new form of expression. His first pieces contained Benton’s style; Benson is known to have taught him the basic techniques of painting and drawing, and later encouraged him to study the pieces by Old Master (Correia 1). He was also fascinated by the Murals in Mexico, where he borrowed several ideas such as applying paint freely and the use of large canvases (Pollock 11). In his late twenties, Pollock suffered a mental breakdown and was treated by a psychoanalyst, who specialized in emotional health and the unconscious mind. As a result, the artist was inspired by the research on human brain and emotions and made it a subject in some of his paintings. The majority of his paintings are made up of shapes, colors, and explosions of curving lines. The pieces portray “a visual representation of the energy and motion of his inner world” (Correia 1).
Pollock is famous for creating a whole new art movement commonly referred to as the Abstract Expressionism, which has become the new American style of art. Abstract expressionism is a type of art that portrays ideas and thoughts through the use of non-representational forms (Emmerling 1). In this regard, the subject of a piece of art is not represented realistically or in a way that is recognizable, but instead, the artists use shapes and colors to represent the general qualities of their theme. Additionally, they also employ the use of Expressionism to expresses their thoughts and feelings (Pollock 9). Pollock began painting using representational objects early in his career but later embarked on the abstract expressionism, which made him a legend. Most of his famous works have no recognizable subjects and consist of large surfaces of canvas completely covered in different colors of paints (Correia 1).
Pollock is considered genius based on his drip paintings, which capture the natural and organic atmosphere. Most of his paintings consist of fractals, which are present in biology, physics, and geology. Fractals refer to the subdivided parts of a rough, larger, geometric shape and are present throughout nature (Pollock 10). Their appearance in Pollock’s paintings is regarded as remarkable because the concept behind fractals was developed in 1975, after the artist’s death (Pollock 11). Additionally, in 1945, Clement Greenberg championed Pollock’s work by referring to him as “the strongest painter of his generation and perhaps the greatest one to appear since Miró” (Pollock 15). He further praised the artist for “avoiding the corrupting influence of popular taste and not being afraid to look ugly” (Pollock 18). Moreover, in 2006, one of Pollock’s paintings was sold at 140 million and set a new record as the most valued piece in the art world. It is in this respect that Pollock is considered a genius and an intuitive artist.
Correia, Kim. Practice, Perception, and Pollock: Towards a Neurological Reading of Jackson Pollock’s Drip Paintings. Diss. 2013.
Emmerling, Leonhard. Jackson Pollock. Taschen, 2003.
Pollock, Griselda. “Whither art history?.” The Art Bulletin 96.1 (2014): 9-23.
Solomon, Deborah. Jackson Pollock: A Biography. Rowman & Littlefield, 1987.