“On the floor I am more at ease, I feel nearer, more a part of
the painting, since this way I can walk around in it, work from the four
sides and be literally ‘in’ the painting.”
Jackson Pollock, 1947.
He began to study painting in 1929 at the Art Students’ League, New York,
under the Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton.
During the 1930s he worked in the manner of the Regionalists, being
influenced also by the Mexican muralist painters
(Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros)
and by certain aspects of
From 1938 to 1942 he worked for the Federal Art Project. By the mid 1940s
he was painting in a completely abstract manner, and the ‘drip and
splash’ style for which he is best known emerged with
some abruptness in 1947. Instead of using the traditional easel he affixed
his canvas to the floor or the wall and poured and dripped his paint from
a can; instead of using brushes he manipulated it with ‘sticks, trowels
or knives’ (to use his own words), sometimes obtaining a heavy impasto
by an admixture of ‘sand, broken glass or other foreign matter’.
This manner of Action painting had in common with Surrealist theories
of automatism that it was supposed by artists and critics alike to result
in a direct expression or revelation of the unconscious moods of the
Pollock's name is also associated with the introduction of the All-over
style of painting which avoids any points of emphasis or identifiable
parts within the whole canvas and therefore abandons the traditional idea
of composition in terms of relations among parts. The design of his
painting had no relation to the shape or size of the canvas — indeed in
the finished work the canvas was sometimes docked or trimmed to suit the
image. All these characteristics were important for the new American
painting which matured in the late 1940s and early 1950s.