Jackson Pollock

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Paul Jackson Pollock (1912-01-281956-08-11) was an influential American painter and a major force in the Abstract Expressionist movement.


  • My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.
    • Quoted in "Jackson Pollock: is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" Life (1949-08-08), pp.42-45
  • Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was.
    • Quoted in "Unframed Space," interview with Berton Roueché, The New Yorker (1950-08-05), in The Grove Book of Art Writing: Brilliant Words on Art from Pliny the Elder to Damien Hirst, ed. Martin Gayford and Karen Wright [Grove Press, 2000, ISBN 0-802-13720-2], p. 546
  • I am nature.
    • As quoted by Lee Krasner in an interview with Dorothy Strickler (1964-11-02) for the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. In Krasner's words, "When I brought Hofmann up to meet Pollock and see his work which was before we moved here, Hofmann’s reaction was — one of the questions he asked Jackson was, do you work from nature? There were no still lifes around or models around and Jackson’s answer was, 'I am nature.' And Hofmann’s reply was, 'Ah, but if you work by heart, you will repeat yourself.' To which Jackson did not reply at all." The meeting between Pollock and Hofmann took place in 1942.
  • My concern is with the rhythms of nature... I work inside out, like nature.
    • Quoted in Leonhard Emmerling, Jackson Pollock: 1912-1956 (Taschen, 2003, ISBN 3-822-82132-2), p. 48


  • I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. I prefer sticks, trowels, knives and dripping fluid paint or a heavy impasto with sand, broken glass or other foreign matter added.
  • I don't work from drawings or colour sketches... I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them... I can control the flow of paint, there is no accident, just as there is no beginning or no end.
  • Is this a painting?
    • Comment when viewing one of his works
  • Painting is my whole life....
  • Something in me knows where I'm going, and — well, painting is a state of being.
    • Variant: * Painting is a state of being... self-discovery... every good artist paints what he is.
  • Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.
  • When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about. I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.
  • Variant: I prefer to tack the canvas to the floor... I can walk around work from the four sides and literally be in the painting... this is akin to the method of the Indians and painters of the West.

Quotes about Pollock

  • A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor. ... There was complete silence. ... Pollock looked at the painting. Then, unexpectedly, he picked up can and paint brush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster and more dance like as he flung black, white, and rust colored paint onto the canvas. He completely forgot that Lee and I were there; he did not seem to hear the click of the camera shutter. ... My photography session lasted as long as he kept painting, perhaps half an hour. In all that time, Pollock did not stop. How could one keep up this level of activity? Finally, he said "This is it."

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