(Paul) Jackson Pollack (1912-1956)
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Pollock, (Paul) Jackson (1912-1956), American painter, who was a leader of the abstract expressionist movement. He was born in Cody, Wyoming, and studied at the Art Students League in New York City with Thomas Hart Benton. Pollock spent several years traveling around the country and sketching. In the late 1930s and early 1940s he worked in New York City on the Work Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project. His early paintings, in the naturalistic style of Benton, depict the American scene realistically. Between 1943 and 1947 Pollock, influenced by surrealism, adopted a freer and more abstract style, as in The She-Wolf (1943, Museum of Modern Art, New York City).

After 1947 Pollock worked as an abstract expressionist, developing the action-painting technique in which the artist drips paint and commercial enamels from sticks or trowels onto huge canvases stretched on the floor. By this method Pollock produced intricate interlaced patterns of color, such as Full Fathom Five and Lucifer (both 1947, Museum of Modern Art). After 1950 his style changed again, as he crisscrossed raw white canvas with thin lines of brown and black pigment. Among his paintings of this last period is Ocean Grayness (1953, Guggenheim Museum, New York City). See Abstract Expressionism.

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