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Pollock, Jackson (1912–1956) By Child, Danielle

DOI: 10.4324/9781135000356-REM179-1
Published: 09/05/2016
Retrieved: 22 June 2024, from


Jackson Pollock was one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism in mid-twentieth century America. He began his career working for the Federal Art Project, but is predominantly known for pioneering the ‘‘drip’’ technique in which, using sticks and brushes, the artist dripped paint onto the horizontal canvas. Hans Namuth famously filmed and photographed Pollock painting in 1951. Pollock was the focus of a number of American art critics in the 1950s, particularly Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg. Although unnamed, Pollock’s method of working was the implicit content of Rosenberg’s ‘‘The American Action Painters’’ (1952), in which the act of painting becomes the central focus of the work. It is Pollock’s canvases that take center stage in Greenberg’s historicization of ‘‘modernist painting’’ which followed a formalist trajectory of French painting through to contemporary American painting in the 1950s (this was later expanded in the 1960s to include the ‘‘high modernist’’ painters who developed from Pollock). The attention given to Pollock’s method of painting further fostered the scrutiny of Pollock himself. His subsequent characterization in popular culture as a manic-depressive who struggled with alcoholism clouded an understanding of his contribution to modernist painting in later years.

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Citing this article:

Child, Danielle. Pollock, Jackson (1912–1956). Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Taylor and Francis,

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