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From all the research and watching the movie “Pollock” I would have to say the movie gave a very good portrayal of the life of Jackson Pollock. Environment shaped the painter when looking at his life. His upbringing certainly had great influence on the artist and was anything but ordinary. Born on the frontier and raised on the run throughout the West, Pollock and his family finally settled in California, but between birth and his teenage years, the experiences Pollock endured served as a catalyst in distorting his psyche and created his artwork. Jackson Pollock was deeply affected by his childhood and by various other forces that served to mold the man into one of the most controversial painters of all time.
The relationship Pollock endured with his mother was a major factor in the person and the painter he was to become. His mother, Stella Pollock, influences on him would inevitably become too much for him to bear. She would plague him for the duration of his life, creating in him a feeling of unrest, betrayal and isolation. She would become the hidden force behind many of his paintings. Never was Jackson Pollock able to deal with any woman in a normal manner for the rest of his life. Another huge influence in his life was Alcohol. Pollock was plagued by alcoholism throughout his adult life and with his childhood upbringing, along with his mother’s influence Pollock had to struggle constantly to maintain his sanity. Even numerous years of therapy failed to quiet the torment inside.
Paul Jackson Pollock was born on the plains of the small western town of Cody, Wyoming in 1912. He was the youngest of five brothers. His father was a farmer and his mother had a problem with champagne taste on a beer budget. His mothers extravagances caused the family to move several times from Wyoming to Arizona to California. His family background of a mostly absent father and a domineering mother can be blamed in part for the man he became. The resentment instilled by this environment haunted Pollock his entire life. From his birth until his death in an alcohol related car crash in 1956, the man often known simply as Jack went through many transformations in his life, arguably as many changes as there are Pollock paintings.
Pollock’s formal study of art began in late 1929 or early 1930. It was then that he made the move from his family home in California to New York to study art under the Regionalism painter Thomas Hart Benton. Here Pollock first discovered that he really didn’t have a talent for drawing, but under the study of Benton he began to develop his skill and interest in painting (Pioch 1997). During the early years of his career Pollock worked in the manner of Regionalism with influences coming from the Mexican muralist painters Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros. Many aspects of realism also served as an influence. But throughout his lifespan and artistic career, Jackson Pollock made sure it was shown in his art the influences his upbringing and his family life had on his paintings. Whether one is looking at an early painting from the thirties such as “T.P.’s Boat in Menemsha Pond” or the forties artwork “The She-Wolf” it is clear that Pollock reacted to the rage he felt inside.
Among the many artists credited with influencing the painting of Pollock in some form was the nineteenth-century eccentric artist Albert Pinkham Ryder. Pollock mentions Ryder as being an influence as late as 1944 (Landau, 1989, p. 31). Like Pollock, Ryder seemed to fight with the paint and heaped many layers of paint together in muted, muddy strokes. It was obvious that Pollock chose to create in much the same way. Again, one need not look far to realize that something ran even deeper in Pollock and it was here that the demons began their work.
Although he battled many demons throughout his life, never quite shaking clear of the yoke his mother placed over his shoulders or the cloud that alcohol hung over his head, Jackson Pollock remained a pioneer in the world of art. Jackson Pollock had the type of influence on his own field that one would normally associate with an Einstein. Pollock, however remained blissfully indifferent to the impact that his work created. His own relationship to what his work, redefined involved a remarkable lack of comprehension of the precedents that had been set. In the words of Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, “Jackson Pollock was “Promethean” in his work. One feature of the Promethean is the concept of indifference. Pollock certainly had that part down (Gilbert-Rolfe, 1990, p. 33). I’m not sure that he would aruge that point at all. Despite the many problems that plagued him throughout his life, Pollock found a way to rise above them. As with all things, though, destiny has its way in the end. Pollock was destined for greatness from the beginning. He was also destined to struggle and suffer so that the world of art could move forward. Much in the world of art is owned to this alcoholic, schizophrenic country boy turned artist. Jackson Pollock may have lost the battle, but he most certainly won the war.
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