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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Jackson Pollock was an extraordinary individual who used art to distract himself from his inner demons. His work was entirely unique and remains instantly recognisable for art followers all around the world. Here we uncover some quotes from his lifetime in order to better understand the man behind the art.

This was not an artist who was easy to deal with on a personal basis, as he life could be turbulent, just as was his art. Relatively few quotes have been taken from his life because he often would hide away from stardom, despite his fame and success. This leaves us with relatively litle information on him as compared to other 20th century painters who were generally more open and accessible. In a way, though, this personality was a key part of his art, allowing him to express his deep emotions in extraordinary ways directly on these huge canvases. The lack of human interaction was replaced with his work, making it all the more emotional and expressive. You will find others to have done much the same, say Van Gogh, for example, who used art as a means of therapy and found this as an effective means to improving his own mental health.

We have used quotes for all manner of different purposes, sometimes to learn more about someone's views on different topics but also to provide inspiration to us in some circumstances. The finest quotes have become well known, and normally the person who first said it remains connected to the phrase forever. Pollock cannot argue to have achieved that, but some of his comments are still entirely interesting and help us to understand the man a little better. It also helps us to understand why he worked in the way he did, and whether or not the opinions of others on his work was important to him or not. We have also included some views on his career from other interesting sources to further expand your knowledge about his career overall.

Famous Quotes by Jackson Pollock

Every good painter paints what he is.

I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time.

It doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.

I don't work from drawings. I don't make sketches and drawings and color sketches into a final painting.

My painting does not come from the easel.

My paintings do not have a center, but depend on the same amount of interest throughout.

New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements... the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.

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.

Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.

The modern artist is working with space and time, and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating.

The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.

The strangeness will wear off and I think we will discover the deeper meanings in modern art.

Today painters do not have to go to a subject matter outside of themselves. Most modern painters work from a different source. They work from within.

When I'm painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It's only after a get acquainted period that I see what I've been about. I've no fears about making changes for the painting has a life of its own.

When I say artist I mean the man who is building things - creating molding the earth - whether it be the plains of the west - or the iron ore of Penn. It's all a big game of construction - some with a brush - some with a shovel - some choose a pen.

Quotes about Jackson Pollock by Art Historians and Fellow Artists

Pollock's tough and unsettled early life growing up in the American West shaped him into the bullish character he would become. Later, a series of influences came together to guide Pollock to his mature style: years spent painting realist murals in the 1930s showed him the power of painting on a large scale; Surrealism suggested ways to describe the unconscious; and Cubism guided his understanding of picture space.


He was widely noticed for his technique of pouring or splashing liquid household paint onto a horizontal surface ("drip technique"), enabling him to view and paint his canvases from all angles. It was also called All-over painting and "action painting", since he covered the entire canvas and used the force of his whole body to paint, often in a frenetic dancing style.


A reclusive and volatile personality, Pollock struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career and on his legacy. Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related single-car accident when he was driving.


In 1937 Pollock began psychiatric treatment for alcoholism, and he suffered a nervous breakdown in 1938, which caused him to be institutionalized for about four months. After these experiences, his work became semiabstract and showed the assimilation of motifs from the modern Spanish artists Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, as well as the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. Jungian symbolism and the Surrealist exploration of the unconscious also influenced his works of this period; indeed, from 1939 through 1941 he was in treatment with two successive Jungian psychoanalysts who used Pollock's drawings in the therapy sessions. Characteristic paintings from this period include Bird (c. 1941), Male and Female (c. 1942), and Guardians of the Secret (1943).