Figure exponent of Abstract Expressionism, Pollock was one of the first American painters to be compared in life to masters of European art after much negative criticism (this life is not so easy). He was born in 1912 in Cody, Wyoming, but his artistic career began in 1928 at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles where the painter and illustrator Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky presented to the Theosophical Society, a group of studies psychic phenomena and religions Eastern, the theosophical ideologies influence his work for many years.
Pollock fought a long battle with alcoholism and depression, in 1937, was admitted for 4 months in a psychiatric hospital where he underwent a Jungian analysis, but it could not cure him. Then in a shift towards abstraction, he incorporated in its painting elements of Spanish modernists like Picasso and Joan Miró, as well as techniques learned from Siqueiros. His first work of large dimensions, Wall (1943-1944) already is a prelude of the style that was to come: the figuration is abandoned in favor of a linear gestural abstraction and automatic representation of subconscious imagery.
In 1942, Pollock met Lee Krasner, a Jewish contemporary artist and an established painter in her own right, at a party. She later visited Pollock at his studio and was impressed with his art. They soon became romantically involved.
Pollock married the artist Lee Krasner in 1945, who has always supported her husband and who has battled for his promotion in the art world while he drank incessantly or painted in his studio. The couple bought a farm in East Hampton, Long Island where the barn was transformed into a large studio where Pollock would do great works.
Disposing of space to work in large formats, Pollock opened a canvas on the floor so that he could access it from all four sides, then poured or dripped paint with a stick or spatula. Walking on the canvas with a paint can in his left hand (he actually became part of the work) used the right to spray in the manner of natives who he had seen painting with sand. The process could take weeks due to the contemplative pauses and applying successive layers of enamel paint, sand or glass. Pollock believed that painting had its own life, but the final product always depended on the willingness of the artist. I love this process and use it to make lots of backgrounds for my canvases, it just do not takes me weeks because I’m kind of hyperactive.
In the summer of 1950, the German photographer Hans Namuth Pollock asked if he could photograph him painting. Lee managed to convince him to accept, after the end of the shoot, Namuth suggested filming a documentary, he accepted. A camera was positioned under a glass plate and Pollock was instructed to paint this plate as if the studio.
For someone who valued both manifestations of the unconscious and the intimacy of the act of painting, working under the direction of others as if staging for an audience was very painful for him so much that one night, after a few sips of whiskey, he dropped the dining table where all the guests were seated and turned to Namuth and said: “I am not an impostor!”
I found a good part of this documentary on Youtube that is below: