Paul Jackson Pollock was born to Stella May McClure and Leroy Pollock on January 28th, 1912 in Cody, Wyoming. Eleven months after birth, Jackson and his family left Cody and traveled further west to Arizona and California. In sixteen years, the family moved nine times and eventually settled in Los Angeles. Pollock was the youngest of five brothers. Throughout his life, his siblings, two of which were also developing artists, were greatly supportive of his interest in art. In Los Angeles, he was able to attend Manual Arts High School where he met Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky, an illustrator and painter who assisted in training Pollock to paint and draw.
In 1930 Pollock joined his eldest brother, Charles, in studying under Thomas Hart Benton at the Arts Students League in New York. With the help of Benton, Pollock advanced his knowledge of drawing and composition, as well as gained first-hand experience in contemporary mural painting. It is said that this experience led to Pollock's fondness of large-scale paintings. In the year of 1935, Pollock worked as an easel painter under the WPA Federal Art Project. This job not only provided an opportunity for Pollock to advance his work, but also provided him with economic security through the lasting years of the Great Depression. In 1936 a Mexican muralist by the name of David Alfaro Siqueiros developed a temporary workshop in New York. This was the start of Pollock's interest in unorthodox techniques such as splattering, pouring, and dripping. Because of his many abstract paintings which he completed by "dripping" paint over a canvas, Pollock was known as "Jack the Dripper".
In 1945, Pollock married an American painter by the name of Lee Kranser and the couple moved to Long Island, New York. For years, Pollock experimented with new techniques and for years, Pollock arose with unbelievable pieces of art, yet along the way, he struggled with severe depression and alcoholism. Pollock's brothers, Charles and Sande, encouraged him to seek help; his treatments included psychoanalysis. In 1948 he had a mental breakdown and was institutionalized for four months. Following this incident, Pollock's semi-abstract work resembled that of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and José Clemente Orozco.
By 1955, Pollock's mental disorders overcame him and he stopped painting all together. In 1956, Kranser took a trip to Europe, while Pollock was left at home. On August 12th, She received a phone call saying that her husband had passed away the night before as a result of a car accident. Pollock had been driving drunk and had killed both him and an acquaintance, as well as seriously injured another passenger.
There are many aspects of Pollock's life which acted as the basis of his ideas and led to a successful career as an abstract expressionist painter; some were simple and were not of great importance, while some had great value. During his life, Pollock greatly influenced both his contemporaries and various art movements around the United States, mainly because of his devotion to the subject. He dedicated his life to art and is today known as the "peer of 20th century European masters".