Charles Pollock

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Charles Cecil Pollock
Born(1902-12-25)December 25, 1902
DiedMay 8, 1988(1988-05-08) (aged 85)
Known forPainting
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Pollock; Sylvia Winter Pollock[1]

Charles Cecil Pollock (25 December 1902 in Denver, Colorado - 8 May 1988 in Paris) was an American abstract painter and the eldest brother of artist Jackson Pollock.


Pollock was born on December 25, 1902 in Denver, Colorado. He was the eldest of five brothers born to Stella May McClure and LeRoy Pollock. His father, who was born as a McCoy, had taken the surname of his parents' neighbors, who adopted him after his own parents died within a year of each other.[2]

In 1926 Pollock moved to New York to study painting. In 1930, he and another brother, Frank, persuaded their brother Jackson to join them there, effectively launching his own artistic career.[3]

In 1935, he moved to Washington, D.C. to work with the Resettlement Administration. Two years later he took a job as a political cartoonist for the United Automobile Workers' newspaper in Detroit, Michigan. From 1938 to 1942 Pollock supervised Mural Painting and Graphic Arts for the Federal Arts Project (WPA) in Michigan. After visiting Michigan State University in 1942, he joined the faculty in the Art Department, where he would teach for the next two decades.[2]

Artistic style[edit]

Charles Pollock's career as a painter is sharply divided into two periods. Until the mid 1940s, Pollock followed the social realist movement, studying under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League of New York.[1] Pollock was inspired by the works of the Mexican Mural Renaissance, particularly the works of Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. During the Great Depression and the New Deal era of the 1930s, Pollock began working for the Resettlement Administration, alongside fellow Social Realist Ben Shahn, supervising murals through the Midwestern and Southern United States. Pollock was then selected as supervisor of the mural painting and graphic arts division of the Federal Art Project at the WPA, settling in Detroit, Michigan.[4]

Charles Pollock abandoned social realism in the 1940s, and turned to abstract expressionism and color field painting. Some attribute the shift to the influence of his famous brother Jackson, although Charles Pollock painted in a very calm and organized manner unlike Jackson's drip painting style.


Pollock had painted public works projects for the Michigan State University in the early 1940s, when it was then Michigan State College; three of his murals can be seen in the Fairchild Theatre foyer. A collection of Pollock's later abstract expressionist works are housed in Paris, the city where Pollock died in 1988. The Smithsonian American Art Museum also houses dozens of works by Charles Pollock.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Charles Pollock papers, 1902-1990". Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Paris, France: Charles Pollock Archives. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  3. ^ Brenson, Michael (May 10, 1988). "Charles Pollock, Abstract Painter and Brother of Jackson, Dies at 86" (PDF). The New York Times. Obituaries. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  4. ^ "New Deal Art and Architecture". Kresge Art Museum. Michigan State University. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Works by Charles Pollock". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 21 August 2013.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]