Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner: Rare Photos, 1949
Is he the greatest living painter in the United States? That was the direct, provocative question asked in an August 1949 LIFE magazine article that helped cement Jackson Pollock’s reputation. It was a question Pollock spent much of the rest of his life struggling to answer — while desperately hoping to show the skeptics why LIFE was right to even ask such a monumental question in the first place. As the single most recognizable practitioner of Abstract Expressionism — the movement that put America and, specifically, post-World War II New York at the epicenter of painting’s avant-garde — Pollock was a genuine art star. But he soon abandoned the radical “drip” technique that had earned him both fame and, among some art critics, vilification and spent the last few years of his life battling the twin demons of depression and alcoholism. Today, a painting from Pollock’s “drip period” can fetch north of $100 million at auction.
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