Jackson Pollock Unauthorized
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His Unique Style

Action painting is a form of abstract expressionism. Jackson Pollock is the most celebrated artist of this form. What makes his style so unique is that he placed a large canvas on the floor instead of using the traditional easel. He painted with forceful, rapid, impulsive brush strokes or by splashing the paint directly onto the canvas. He also used sticks, trowels, paint cans with holes in the bottom, and knives to apply the paint.

Jackson Pollock
Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock from the movie "Pollack".

His method of painting came from his interest in primitive cultures and he was especially fascinated with Native American Navajo sand painters and their method of working. Their works were created on the ground with sand of various colors let loose from the hand. He described his abstraction as an attempt to evoke the rhythmic energy of nature.

Other early influences on Pollock include Picasso, Miró, and the Surrealists, as well as Mexican muralists David Alfaro Siquieros and José Clemente Orozco. Pollock first encountered the use of enamel paint in 1936 from an experimental workshop in New York by Siquieros. He was encouraged to try using the unorthodox techniques that have made him famous, by flinging the paint and pouring it to gain spontaneous effects.

Jackson Pollock's Key
Jackson Pollock - Key

Often, he would use numbers as titles for his paintings. His technique was innovative, approaching the art from every possible angle. On some of his work, you can even see footprints, where he literally stepped into the painting. Rather than standing back from the canvas and contemplating it from a distance, he immersed himself in the act. By creating these action paintings, he felt he was actually a part of the painting.

He cared more about expressing his emotions and feelings rather than making a picture look real. But not all abstract expressionist painters were action painters.

Pollock’s style and work was heavily praised and criticized. Some simply dismissed him and his work as meaningless and chaotic, and others saw them as organized, fascinating, and psychologically compelling. One of Pollock’s most ardent supporters, Clement Greenberg, said he was “the most powerful painter in contemporary America and the only one who shows promise to be a major one.”

Just like Pollock was influenced by others, he himself has influenced artists. His paint-pouring technique was adapted by color-field painters Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis. Frank Stella and Robert Morris made allover composition a hallmark of the minimal art movement. Performance artist Allan Kaprow and sculptors Richard Serra and Eva Hesse retained Pollock’s emphasis on the process of creation and pushed this emphasis even further.


Jack the Dripper
Jackson Pollock Unauthorized - Biography - Downfall
Important Works - Pollock in Print and on Screen
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Drip Paintings - Abstract Expressionism - Unique Style - Did You Know? - Famous Quotes - The Technique of Action Painting in Jackson Pollock Paintings
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