Pollak studied painting and etching at the Vienna Academy of Art under Ferdinand Schmutzer. By the 1910s, he was already gaining a reputation by creating portraits of European luminaries, including Sigmund Freud. While in Vienna, he witnessed the exodus of Jews from pogroms in Russia and Bohemia, as shown in his 1914 series of etchings Im Barachenslager. Pollak spent three years in Paris before coming to New York in 1927, eventually settling in San Francisco.
Pollak’s early etchings are finely detailed, just as Dutch Girl of 1924. His etching technique of applying color directly to the plate ‘a la poupee’ before pressing results in unique impressions, as can be seen in San Francisco Between the Bridges of 1949. Pollak also loved to travel and spent considerable time in Central America.