Jackson Pollock was an influential American painter, and the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement in the art world. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. Jackson Pollock’s greatness lies in developing one of the most radical abstract styles in the history of modern art, detaching line from color, redefining the categories of drawing and painting, and finding new means to describe pictorial space.
In 1939, The Museum of Modern Art in New York mounted an important Picasso exhibition entitled: Picasso: 40 Years of His Art, which contained 344 works of Pablo Picasso and his famous anti-war mural, Guernica. The exhibit led Pollock to recognize the expressive power of European modernism, which he had previously rejected in favor of American art. He began to forge a new style of semi-abstract totemic compositions, refined through obsessive reworking.
By the mid 1940s, Jackson Pollock introduced his famous ‘drip paintings’, which represent one of the most original bodies of work of the century, and forever altered the course of American art. To produce in Jackson Pollock’s ‘action painting’, most of his canvases were either set on the floor, or laid out against a wall, rather than being fixed to an easel. In addition to the ‘drip and splash’ style, the All-over method of painting, is also one which is tied to Jackson Pollock, and many of the artworks he created. This art form avoids any clear and distinct points of emphasis, or any identifiable parts within the canvas being used to create the piece. The designs and images which were created using this style of painting, really had no relation to the size of the canvas that was worked on; the lack of dimensions, and disregard for size of the drawings, were some unique features which this form of art captured. Many of the pieces which Jackson Pollock created following this style, required him to trim or crop the canvas, in order for the image to fit in, and to work with the overall features of the art.
To this day Jackson Pollock is known as a leader in the most important 20th century American art movements. The risks and the creative approaches he took, led future artists to create with passion, as opposed to trying to follow set boundaries or guidelines. In addition, Pollock’s radical paintings and dramatic persona helped draw attention to the broader group of Abstract Expressionists, including Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko.
His premature death, which took place when he was killed in a car crash, also added to the legendary status which he is still known from in the art world today.