On 8 August, 1949, an article appeared in LIFE magazine titled, “Jackson Pollock. Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?” thrusting the artist to stardom.

Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming, in 1912. His father was a land surveyor and ardent supporter of Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Pollock would become familiar with Native American art and culture while accompanying his father on surveying trips in the American West.

A veteran of the Art Students League, and expelled previously from two art schools, from 1938 – 1942, Pollock worked for the Federal Art Project, a New Deal program of he Works Progress Administration.

Pollock took to using household, rather than artists paints, and termed his style, ‘action painting’. In an interview he stated, “My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the un-stretched 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.”

He perished in an automobile crash in 1956. He was 44 years old. In 2000, a biopic, POLLOCK, was released, with actor Ed Harris playing the volatile artist. A trailer for the film appears below…