Jackson Pollock was an explosive force in American art circles at midcentury. Rejecting the conservative realism of his mentor, Thomas Hart Benton, Pollock developed a painting style centered on spontaneity and accident. Rather than working from an easel, he laid his canvases on the studio floor and used a variety of nontraditional tools, including sticks and trowels, to create swirling patterns of expressive marks. Inspired by Jungian psychology and surrealism, he sought an art that flowed with great immediacy from his unconscious. From the time of his first solo exhibition in 1943 to his death in a car accident in 1956, Pollock was the most talked about and controversial artist of the period. His hard drinking, reckless behavior, and brooding manner only added to the public’s fascination. Arnold Newman’s photograph was part of a series taken in the artist’s Long Island studio in 1949 on commission for Life magazine.