Jackson Pollock began studying painting in 1929 at the Art Students' League, New York. Here he was a student of Thomas Hart Benton, who kindled his interest in Regionalism. During the 1930's he was inspired by Rivera, Orozco and Siquieros, the Mexican Muralist painters, as well as certain aspects of Surrealism. By the mid 1940s he was painting in a completely abstract manner. Pollock's 'drip and splash', or Action painting, developed in 1947 and avoided any identifiable parts within the whole canvas and therefore abandoned the traditional idea of composition in terms of relations among parts. He would fix his canvases to the floor or wall and drip or pour paint from a can. Once complete his canvases were often trimmed to suit the image. These unique characteristics and inventive style had a direct influence on the new American painting that developed in the late 1940's and early 1950's. Strongly supported by advanced critics, but also subject to much abuse and sarcasm, Pollock's premature death in a car accident contributed to his legendary status. The Museum of Modern Art, New York held a major retrospective of his work in 1999. Recognised as the commanding figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement, he is also considered to be the most important figure in American painting in the 20th Century.
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