"The Flame" (c. 1934-38), oil on canvas, mounted on fiberboard, by Jackson Pollock.
Paul Jackson Pollock was born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, and grew up throughout the Southwest as his family relocated, trying to eke out a living. Encouraged by his mother, Pollock took art classes in high school. "Those were the only classes he really seemed to be very good at," said Helen Harrison, who runs the Pollock-Krasner Home & Study Center near East Hampton, Long Island.
At age 18, Pollock traveled to New York to study with American muralist Thomas Hart Benton. Gradually, however, he became fascinated with abstraction - his work drawing the attention of influential collectors and gallery owners.