Jackson Pollock Biography | Art History for Middle and High School

Jackson Pollock Biography | Art History for Middle and High School


Meet Jackson Pollock,
one of the most amazing American painters
of the 20th century. Wow, thanks. And pleased to meet you. Paul Jackson Pollock, who
is better known as Jackson, was born in Cody,
Wyoming in 1912. Cody was known for its huge
open country, and of course, cowboys. I love the Wild West. Jackson was the youngest
of five sons born to Leroy and Stella Pollack. Even though Jackson
was born in Cody, the family didn’t
live there long. In fact, the family didn’t
live anywhere too long. They were always on the move. You are so correct. All this moving made
it hard for us kids. From Cody they moved
to Phoenix where the family owned the farm. This is where the Pollock
family felt most at home, and most certainly
regretted leaving later. My dad was an amazing farmer. He could grow just
about anything. In fact, Jackson
and his brothers would spend most of the
year sleeping outside on an old brass bed
under the stars. It was like
camping year around. So much fun. But not long after, the
family was on the move again. This time to Chico, California
where they owned a citrus farm. Loved all that fresh orange
juice, but my dad hated growing fruit. So it was off to
Janesville, California where they bought
and ran an inn. But that didn’t
work out too well. So back to Chico we go. And then back to Arizona. And finally it was
back to California. But this time, the
family settled in LA. What a relief. All this moving around really
didn’t help me make friends. However, it was in 1928
at Manual Arts High School that Jackson became
interested in art, thanks to his very supportive
art teacher Mr. Schwankovsky. Actually, we called
him Mr. Swanee. He was such an
encouragement to me. Unfortunately, Jackson always
had a tough time with school. So in 1930 Jackson decides
to leave high school and head to New York City were his
brother Charles was studying art at the Art Students League. This was not a good time to move
to New York or anywhere else, for that matter. This was the beginning
of the Great Depression. Life was definitely not easy. But being in New
York was definitely where I wanted to be. Thankfully, in
1935 the New Deal created by President
Franklin Roosevelt helped to finance
the Federal Arts Project, which gave
artists like Jackson $100 a month to create art. Here, go make some art. Hey, thanks. A year later in
1936, Pollack became inspired by Mexican muralist
David Siqueiros and his Union Square experimental workshop. Siqueiros would experiment
with spraying, splattering, or even dripping paint. This guy is great. I imagine you can see the
connection between Siqueriros’ work and this work by Jackson. Soon after in 1941, Jackson
met Lee Krasner, who was also a painter living in New York. She instantly fell in love
with Jackson and his paintings. I absolutely love
Jackson’s work. Ah, thanks Lee. Lee was a huge confidence
booster for Jackson. And she had connections
and knew how to succeed as an
artist in New York. In fact, she knew
Peggy Guggenheim, the world famous art collector. Soon after, Peggy
paid Pollock to create a huge painting for her home. This painting was
so big that Jackson had to tear down a wall in
their apartment to fit it in. Don’t mind me. I’m just tearing down this wall. Months passed and Pollock just
kept staring at the canvas. Finally, under pressure,
he got started. Within 24 hours he had finished. Check out this amazing
painting titled “Mural.” Some artist just work
better under pressure. Looks pretty good, right? Soon after, Jackson
started having trouble focusing on his painting. Just too much big
city life, I guess. Ah, so much to do and see. No time to paint. So in 1945, Pollack and
Lee were married and decided that moving out to the
countryside would be best. No more distractions,
noises, and crazy food. After moving to
the barn, Pollock started to become frustrated
by the human figure. He was still trying to
find his unique style. This just isn’t working. Finally, a year
later in 1947, Jackson decided to trash the easel
and paint with the canvas directly on the ground. It was through this
event that Jackson discovered his famous
controlled drip technique. However, as with most
groundbreaking ideas, not everyone liked it. Man, I’m confused. Actually, let’s just
say, not everyone understood Jackson’s technique. This is different, like my hat. It wasn’t until 1949 when
“Life” magazine printed a huge article asking if
Jackson was the greatest living painter in America. Hey, I look pretty good there. This article exposed the
nation to Jackson Pollock and his revolutionary technique. It also intrigued a famous
photographer, Hans Namuth. Hey, nice to meet you. In fact, Pollock
grew to like him so much that he even let
Hans make a film documenting his technique. Check it out. Throughout the next few years,
Jackson Pollock’s fame grew. However, his confidence
was always low since he could only sell
a few of his paintings. Even with the
support of his wife Lee, Pollock never seemed to
find the spark and inspiration he once had. Unfortunately, through
a series of sad choices, Pollack died in a
car crash in 1956. [THEME MUSIC] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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