Charles Cecil Pollock was born on December 25, 1902, in Denver, Colorado. The eldest of five brothers, he spent his childhood in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona and California. In 1922 he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a copyboy for The Los Angeles Times while attending classes at the Otis Art Institute. By the early 1920s he matured an interest in Mexican art, particularly in José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera’s mural work, which had a lasting impact on his own art.

In 1926 Pollock left Los Angeles and settled in New York where he studied under Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students’ League. In 1930, Charles and Frank Pollock persuaded their brother Jackson to leave Los Angeles and move to New York to study with Benton. At this time the artist was making a living teaching art at the City and Country School in New York. In 1935 he moved to Washington D.C. to work with the Resettlement Administration and two years later he became a political cartoonist for the United Automobile Workers’ newspaper in Detroit, Michigan. Between 1938 and 1942 Pollock was Supervisor of Mural Painting and Graphic Arts for the Federal Arts Project (WPA) in Michigan. After visiting Michigan State University in 1942 for a mural commission, the artist joined the faculty in the Art Department, where he taught for over two decades. In 1945 he spent three months drawing and painting in the desert of Arizona. This experience marked a turning point in his career as he abandoned social realism and began experimenting with abstraction. In 1955 Pollock spent a sabbatical in Ajijic, a small village on Lake Chapala in Mexico. In 1957 he married Sylvia Winter and in 1962 the couple traveled across Europe before settling in Rome for the artist’s second sabbatical year.

Pollock was an artist in residence at the University of Pennsylvania in 1965 and 1967, and was awarded a Guggenheim grant in 1967-68 and a National Foundation of the Arts Grant in 1967. After retiring from teaching in 1967, he returned to New York, before settling with his wife in Paris in 1971, where he spent the last seventeen years of his life. Pollock had major shows in France, England, and Belgium and his work is featured in numerous collections, including those of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Gallery of Art. Charles Pollock died on May 2, 1988, in Paris.