Art historian Dennis Raverty stated that "until the advent of Andy Warhol, probably no postwar American artist had captured the popular imagination more than Jackson Pollock" (337). Born January 28, 1912, Pollock was the first abstract American painter to be taken seriously in Europe; he died on August 11, 1956, having completed a number of large-scale canvasses that established him as a new icon in the field of art. Though Pollock is often characterized as representing "Abstract Expressionism," H.W. Janson states that "action painting, the term coined some years ago for this style, conveys its essence far better than does Abstract Expressionism" (696).
Pollock, a product of a youth spent in Arizona and California, studied Old Master paintings and mural paintings at New York City's Art Students League under Thomas Hart Benton ("Biography" 1). Pollock was attracted to the work of Mexican muralist Jose Orozco and David Alfaro Siquieros, whose experimental techniques and large scale works would have a lasting impact on Pollock's own development. He met and married fellow painter Lee Krasner in the 1930s and became the protégé of wealthy New York heiress Peggy Guggenheim, who introduced his work to audiences and who gave him a solo exhibition in 1943 ("Biography" 1).
Barbara Jaffee (68-69) claims that Pollock was an artist who appealed to the avant-garde and who was more than willing to experiment with new techniques. He was particularly interested in all over composition, following in the footsteps of Benton but diverging in that he began to use broad movements, literally flinging paint onto canvases to create what Jaffee describes as works of pathetic beauty "that dramatizes the uneasy relationship between movement and mechanization, the individual and the assembly line, becoming, paradoxically [...], the model for successive generations of mannered performance" (78).
Canvases such as One (#31) 1950 are typical...