Biographical / Historical
Painter, muralist, and educator Charles Pollock (1902-1988) lived and worked in East Lansing, Michigan, New York City, Detroit, and Paris, France and painted in a social realist style early in his career before transitioning to abstract works in the 1940s. He is also the eldest brother of the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.
Born in Denver, Colorado to Stella McClure and LeRoy Pollock, Pollock received his early art training at the Otis Institute in Los Angeles, California. In 1926, he moved to New York City to attend the Art Students League where he studied under Thomas Hart Benton, with whom Jackson also studied after joining Charles in New York in 1930. In New York, he met and married his first wife, Elizabeth Feinberg Pollock, in 1931.
Pollock moved to Washington, D.C. in 1935 to work for the Resettlement Administration, and after two years, accepted a position as the political illustrator for the United Automobile Workers' newspaper in Detroit. After a short stint as the illustrator and layout editor for the paper, Pollock served as the supervisor of the Michigan WPA Mural Painting and Graphic Arts division from 1938 to 1942.
Upon completion of a three panel mural for Michigan State University in 1942, Pollock was invited to join the faculty of the art department, where he taught lettering, printmaking, typography, and design. During his twenty-five year tenure at the University, he also served as a book designer for the University's Press and continued to develop his abstract painting style. He met and married his second wife, Sylvia Winter Pollock, in 1957. Pollock served as the University of Pennsylvania's artist in residence in 1965 and 1967, and was the recipient of a National Foundation of Arts Grant (1967) and a Guggenheim Grant (1967-1968). The Pollocks moved to Paris in 1970, where Charles died of complications from a stroke in 1988.