Jackson Pollock was born in Wyoming in 1912, studied painting at the Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, and subsequently trained at the Art Students League in New York, where he spent most of his career. His preferred medium was painting, and he often made works of a large scale, having worked early in his career as a Realist muralist for the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project.
His influences included Mexican muralists, Picasso, Surrealism, and Native American art. The style that defined his career emerged from his drip paintings, which began in 1947. He is widely recognised as an innovator for these works, and a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism. Though seemingly chaotic, his works were the product of a very controlled process. He was known to use industrial house paint, and his colour palette often contained a spectrum of primary colours and variations of grey on an unprimed canvas, which he was known to paint on both sides. He had a noted reticence to give his works titles, often changing them after the completion of a work, though ritual violence and sexuality pervade as themes. Peggy Guggenheim was an early collector of Pollock, and contributed to his positive reception in Europe with her exhibition at the Venice Biennale of 1948. However, Pollock never travelled outside of the United States. Pollock married the artist Lee Krasner, and his older brother Charles was also an artist. Related artists include Willem de Kooning, Clyfford Still and the rest of the New York School. Pollock’s life was cut short in a car accident in 1956.