Rarely has there been an artist as admired and simultaneously dismissed as Jackson Pollock. An abstract expressionist, Pollock famously put his large-scale canvases on the floor, and stylistically dripped or splattered paint to fulfill his vision. He’s sometimes called “Jack the Dripper,” but he was unapologetic about his technique. “On the floor I am more at ease,” he said. “I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”
Pollock’s work is often criticized by the public. “Anyone could drip paint or throw it on a canvas,” some would say. “That’s not art.” Even critics have found fault with Pollock’s work. One wrote that they were “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore, meaningless.” But the art world has always embraced Pollock, and you have to admire his creativity and the abstract beauty of his finished works. Famed art patron Peggy Guggenheim became one of his earliest supporters, and was instrumental in his acceptance and success.
Unfortunately, Pollock struggled with alcoholism, and died in an alcohol-related auto accident at only 44. Whatever you think of his technique, he’s been a major influence on a generation of artists both in the U.S. and Europe. Of his work, Pollock said, “When I’m painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a get acquainted period that I see what I’ve been about. I’ve no fears about making changes for the painting has a life of its own.”