Jackson Pollock – part 1
Jackson Pollock, the fifth and youngest son of Stella May McClure, born in Wyoming on 28 January 1912. His family background is relatively complex and is characterized by frequent movements (9 in 16 years) in cities and states in America. So he grew up in Arizona and southern California where he accepted the first influences from Indian art, mainly from painting in the sand. In 1928 he moved in Los Angeles where he registered in Manual Arts High School and soon he is under the direction and influence of Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky, a visionary painter, which is also a member of the Theosophical Society. Schwankovsky therefore gives him basic knowledge of painting on a theoretical and practical level, but also encourages the so far agnostic Pollock in a further study of the Theosophical literature. This spiritual quest of Pollock is one that pushes him later to embrace the theories of Carl Jung on the unconscious.
In 1929 Pollock followed the footsteps of his brother Charles and settles in New York where he has been attending the Art Students League from his brother’s professor Thomas Hart Benton. He studied there for the next two and a half years until leaving in early 1933. Two years of poverty followed, one with his brother Charles and another with his brother Sanford and his wife in a Greenwich Village apartment until 1942. In late 1935, Pollock is recruited in WPA Federal Art Project as a painter, which offers a relatively financial security. In this period, his work is influenced by both the theological teachings of Benton and the expressionist American Albert Pinkham Ryder.
The initial effects of Pollock’s dependence of alcohol began to appear in 1937, where the artist begins psychiatric treatment for alcoholism until he suffered a nervous breakdown a year later and enclosed himself in a clinic for about four months. After these experiences, however, is observed in him a shift towards a semi abstract art, influenced by Mexican painters such David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera, but also by modern Spanish artists such as Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. Gradually his paintings acquire symbolic elements and become more surreal. This is supported by two successful psychoanalysts who, based on the theories of Carl Yung, undertake his treatment between 1939 and 1941 from depression and alcohol dependence. It is characteristic that psychoanalysts used Pollock’s paintings during the sessions. Some of the paintings that characterize this phase of his life, although do not receive positive critics, are:
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