Jackson Pollock was an American abstract artist born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912. He was the youngest of his five brothers. Even though he was born on a farm, he never milked a cow and he was terrified of horses because he grew up in California. He dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen and proceeded to move to New York City with his older brother, Charles, and studied with Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League. Thomas Benton was already a great artist at the time in which Pollock studied with him. Benton acted like the father figure in Pollock’s life to replace the original that wasn’t there. Benton was known for his large murals that appear on ceilings or walls. “Jack was a rebellious sort at all times,” recalls his classmate and friend, artist Harold Lehman. He grew his hair long and helped pen a manifesto denouncing athletics, even though “he had a muscular build and the school wanted to put him on the football team,” says former teacher Doug Lemon. Pollock always was upset with himself in his studies because he had troubles drawing things like they were supposed to look. From 1938 to 1942, Jackson joined a Mexican workshop of people with a painter named David Siqueiros. This workshop painted the murals for the WPA Federal Art Projects. This new group of people started experimenting with new types of paint and new ways of applying it to large canvas. People say that this time period was when Jackson was stimulated with ideas from looking at the Mexican or WPA murals. Looking at paintings from Picasso and the surrealists also inspired Jackson at this time. The type of paint they used was mixing oil colors with paint used for painting cars. Jackson noticed that the shapes and colors they created were just as beautiful as anything else was. Jackson realized that you didn’t have to be able to draw perfect to make beautiful paintings. Jackson started developing a whole new way of painting that he had never tried before and his paintings were starting to look totally different from before.
Jackson also started action paintings, which are paintings that are abstract, but get the word action from the way they are made.