Jackson Pollock

American (Cody, Wyoming, 1912 - 1956, East Hampton, New York)

Jackson Pollock was one of the first American artists to achieve a worldwide reputation, and he became an icon of the abstract expressionist movement. He spent his childhood moving between farming communities in Arizona and Southern California. At 18, he moved to New York, where he studied art and painted for the Works Progress Administration. In 1939, Pollock entered psychoanalysis as treatment for his lifelong alcoholism, and his work of this period was heavily influenced by C.G. Jung's theory of archetypal collective symbols.

During the late 1940s, Pollock developed a groundbreaking abstract painting technique. He laid his large canvases on the floor and moved around them; rather than brushing on his paint, he poured it directly from the can or flung it in drips and spatters with a brush or stick. The resulting "all-over" paintings were an unmediated trace of his physical actions; they also did away with the artistic conventions of illusionistic depth and distinct figure and ground. Within a few years, however, and perhaps in rebellion against his tremendous critical success, Pollock began to re-introduce symbolic figures into his paintings. His life was perpetually marked by self-destructive behavior; he was killed in a car crash at the age of 44.

From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

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