February 09, 2014



Working methods and technique
Source: Oxford University Press
Pollock is most famous for his pouring technique and for painting his large canvases on the floor using heavily loaded brushes, sticks and turkey-basters to disperse the paint. Analysis of Number 21949 (9.68×4.81 m; Utica, NY, Munson-Williams-Proctor Inst.) will clarify his methods. The surface consists of poured lines and small drops of paint on commercially dyed dark red fabric. The sequence of colours is as follows: thin grey and white lines, a row of bold black curves, an overall intertwining of white and finally delicate pourings and touches of yellow, silver, scarlet and Indian red. Oil from the larger concentrations of black and white paint bled into the porous fabric, creating shadow-like areas of a darker red. Pollock exploited this by carefully placing drops of Indian red paint, the same colour as the fabric, within these darker areas, creating a repoussoir effect that gives a lively dimensionality to what would otherwise have appeared a drab mistake. Pollock was not arbitrarily ‘dripping’ paint but was concerned about, and carefully controlling, his painterly effects, despite the implications of the idea of Action Painting. The first elements of the curvilinear design can be traced on the reverse of Number 21949 because it is painted on fabric rather than canvas. Elements that soaked through appear there as if white were under black but appear on the front with the white on top, showing that Pollock filled in parts of the white lines so the overall aesthetic balance of lights and darks would, as he liked to say, ‘work’.
The vertical black elements of the composition all feel as if the hand had applied them from left to right. Looking at the predominant white elements, a certain tension is discernible. The problem posed by visual instinct is solved by recognizing that the whites were mostly set down from the other edge of the canvas. For Pollock, painting on the floor like a North American Indian sand painter, it was a matter of working along both of its long sides. When the painting is reversed it is apparent that the whites flow as freely and logically as the blacks. One of the hallmarks of most of Pollock’s large-scale work is that the major design elements flow from left to right, as if written out. The left edge of the work, whichever side Pollock is working from, always begins with an elegant pirouette of paint, which then dances across the length of the canvas, until it reaches the terminal right edge, where a suddenly stymied form signifies the artist’s frustration that subjective infinity is limited by the objective length of his ground. In the case of Number 2, 1949, after thinking through the overall coherence of its composition from both sides, Pollock felt it ‘worked’ better if the tension in the whites was retained against the freer blacks underneath. This was typical of his way of thinking, akin to the wildness of nature.
The unusual shape of the work, about five times as wide as it is high, served his tendency to ‘write out’ his paintings. Pollock was also very interested during these years in painting murals, which he did not do on the WPA/FAP. The row of vertical black curves across the length of the work echoes Benton’s theories of mural design. He taught artists to organize a wall with a series of verticals around which more free-flowing forms could be arranged. Pollock often used this device in his work, notably in Blue Poles, and he used it in Number 2 - 1949, countering the whites around the black uprights in a way that sets the rhythms of his oblong frieze. This shape may go even deeper into Pollock’s experience. A family photograph of the dining-room at Cody in 1912, from the same group of photographs that had influenced Going West, showed oblong oleolithographs of flowers on the wall, the exact shape and overall look of many of his most striking poured paintings.
The details of Pollock’s style and facture, whether in major canvases or in his drawings and mixed-media works, all seem to derive from limitations of education and experience. In many ways his work was a closed system that re-assimilated itself until its energy dissipated. Yet his paintings and personality have entered modern mythology by virtue of a heroism of character that transcends both tradition and tragedy.
Francis V. O’Connor - From Grove Art Online

You may visit Jackson Pollock's past exhibition news at Tate Livirpool Blind Spots to click below link from my blog.

Black and Sepia Ink on Mulberry Paper
Dimensions: 63.5 x 98.4 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 24, 1951
Oil on Canvas Laid Down on Masonite
Dimensions: 61.9 x 79.7 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 7, 1952
Enamel and Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 134.9 × 101.6 cm
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015. © 2015.
Image Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Art Resource/Scala, Florence

NUMBER 7, 1952 ( DETAIL )

NO. 8, C. 1952 ( DETAIL )

NO. 8, C. 1952
Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 109.5 × 145.7 cm
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY /
Pollock, Jackson (1912-1956) © ARS, NY

NO. 8, C. 1952 ( DETAIL )

NUMBER 15, 1951, 1951
Enamel on Canvas
Dimensions: 142.2 × 167.6 cm
© 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Duco on Untreated Canvas
Dimensions: 1448 × 108.3 cm
© 2014, ProLitteris, Zürich



Oil, Enamel, and Aluminum Paint on Canvas
Dimensions: 104.1 x 267.9 cm
Collection Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson
© 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Exhibition Announcement, Betty Parsons Gallery, Nov. 26-Dec. 15, 1951
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


MURAL 1943
Oil and Casein on Canvas
Dimensions: 242.9 x 603.9 cm
University of Iowa Museum of Art, Gift of Peggy Guggenheim, 1959.6


NUMBER 5, 1952
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015


Oil Paint, Enamel Paint and Commercial Paint on Canvas
Support: 848 x 5550 mm
Frame: 885 x 5590 x 73 mm
Collection: Tate
Purchased 1988

Oil and Enamel on Canvas
Dimensions: 148.6 × 342.3 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



NUMBER 1A - 1948
Oil and Enamel Paint on Canvas 
Dimensions: 172.7 x 264.2 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Gouache on Plywood
Dimensions: 58.4 x 47.8 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 48.9 x 35.5 cm
The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection
© 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Gouache, Watercolor, And Ink on Paper 
Dimensions: 31.8 x 25.7 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 14: GRAY 1948
Enamel Over Gesso on Paper -
Dimensions: 57 × 78 1/2 cm
Image Provided by Yale University Art Gallery / © Pollock-Krasner Foundation
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

NO. 20 - 1948
Enamel Paint on Paper Mounted on Board -
Dimensions: 52.1 cm × 66 cm
Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica

Collection of National Gallery of Art
© 1997 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

PAINTING  1953 - 1954
Black and Colored Ink on Paper B. Oil and Gouache on Paper
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

UNTITLED (5) C. 1944 - 1945
Engraving and Drypoint  
Dimensions: Plate: 22.3 x 30.2 cm -  Sheet: 25 x 32.7 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements... the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture. ”
-Jackson Pollock

Dimensions: 101.6 x 142.2 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


UNTITLED 2 C. 1944
Engraving and Drypoint - 
Dimensions: Plate: 30.2 x 24.8 cm - Sheet: 47 x 31.4 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 1 - 1949
Enamel and Metallic Paint on Canvas 
Dimensions: 160 × 259.1 cm
© 2012 Artists Rights Society  - MOCA, Los Angeles

Enamel on Canvas
Dimensions: 142.2 × 114.3 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 10, 1949
Oil, Enamel and Aluminum Paint on Canvas Mounted on Panel
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston © 2007 
Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Collection of Robert Aichele
© 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

UNTITLED 11C. 1944 - 1945
Engraving, Etching and Aquatint - 
Dimensions: Plate: 20.3 x 12.6 cm -  Sheet (irreg.): 29 x 20.3 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

UNTITLED C. 1943 - 1944
Dimensions: Composition (irreg.): 21.5 x 14.2 cm - Sheet: 29 x 22.4 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

UNTITLED C. 1943 - 1944
Dimensions: Composition (irreg.): 21.5 x 14 cm - Sheet: 29 x 22.3 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

UNTITLED (M20), CA. 1946
Unique Screenprint in Black, on Tan Card Stock, With Margins
Dimensions: 28 × 21.7 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Oil and Pebbles on Canvas
Dimensions: 373.4 × 284.7 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York /
Image Provided by Seattle Art Museum

© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 114 × 86 cm
Bridgeman-Giraudon / Art Resource, NY / Pollock, Jackson (1912-1956)
© ARS, NY Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna Rome

BROWN & SILVER  I., C. 1951
Enamel and Silver Paint on Canvas -
Dimensions: 144 7/10 × 107 9/10 cm
Scala / Art Resource, NY / Pollock, Jackson (1912-1956) © ARS, NY
El Museo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid


Paper, Enamel, and Aluminum Paint on Fiberboard - 

Dimensions: 78 1/2 × 57 1/2 cm

Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel © Pollock-Krasner Foundation /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York - Fondation Beyeler

I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. ”
-Jackson Pollock

Enamel on Canvas
Dimensions: 266.7 x 525.8 cm
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: George A. Hearn Fund, 1957
Rights and Reproduction: © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Metropolitan Museum Collection


Ink on Paper 
Dimensions: 47.9 x 63.1 cm)
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: Support: 1435 x 1854 mm 
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery ( Purchased Out of Funds Provided by
Mr and Mrs H.J. Heinz II and H.J. Heinz Co. Ltd ) 1961
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2014

Ink and Gouache on Howell Paper - 
Dimensions: 45.5 x 56 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 

Ink on Paper 
Dimensions: 44.5 x 56.6 cm)
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 23 – 1948
Number 23 is an abstract painting on paper. Comprised of layered skeins of black and white enamel paint, the composition was created by dripping and flicking the paint onto the surface of the paper from all four sides. This unusual technique creates a sense of frenzied movement within the image, and results in a composition that could be read from several orientations, although the small inscription of the artist’s name and the date (‘Jackson Pollock, 48’) along one side suggests this to be the lower edge. The juxtaposition between the thin, interlacing threads of paint and the flat negative space of the paper underscores the speed with which the artist worked; an impression that is reinforced for the viewer by the presence of a bee embedded in the paint in the upper right hand corner of the painting.
This painting was created in 1948 by the American abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock. He is best known for pioneering action painting, a vigorous method of dripping paint onto a surface laid out on the floor. For four years from 1947 onwards Pollock employed this drip technique to produce the rhythmic, energetic paintings for which he is renowned. Number 23 was created during this period, in which Pollock worked with commercially available materials, watering down black industrial enamel to a consistency he could apply deftly. The paint was dripped by hand or applied using a syringe, an implement Pollock handled ‘like a giant fountain pen’, as Pollock’s partner, the artist Lee Krasner, described it in 1969 (quoted in Karmel 1999, p.38). Pollock applied the paint from above, circling around the paper’s surface, which he dubbed ‘the arena’. This technique created thin, sweeping arcs of paint, with no central point of focus or hierarchy of elements, imbuing the work with a rhythmic and energetic quality.
Number 23 is one of eleven works on paper of a similar size that Pollock executed in 1948. It was shown alongside twenty-five other Pollock paintings at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, between January and February 1949. Each work in this exhibition had a numbered title. Krasner explained in 1950 that these nonrepresentational works were given numerical titles to avoid steering the viewer towards a particular subject: ‘Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a painting for what it is – pure painting.’ (Quoted in Karmel 1999, p.19.)
Pollock’s drip paintings, which are also represented in the Tate collection by Summertime: Number 9A1948 (Tate T03977), were met with a mixed reaction by critics. Following the 1949 exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery, art critic Emily Genauer wrote that the paintings ‘resemble nothing so much as a mop of tangled hair I have an irresistible urge to comb out’ (quoted in Karmel 1999, p.62). However, Pollock’s paintings were championed by art historian Clement Greenberg, who wrote in 1949 that the new works ‘quieted any doubts this reviewer may have felt … as to the justness of the superlatives with which he has praised Pollock’s art in the past’ (quoted in Karmel 1999, p.62), and an article on Pollock appeared in the 8 August 1949 issue of Life magazine with the sensationalist title ‘Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?’.

NUMBER 14 - 1951
Oil Paint on Canvas
Dimensions: Support: 1465 x 2695 mm Frame: 1493 x 2721 x 63 mm
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015

Oil, Aluminum, Enamel Paint, and String on Canvas
Dimensions: 114.6 x 221.3 cm
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, 1976
© 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Alchemy is one of Jackson Pollock’s earliest poured paintings, executed in the revolutionary technique that constituted his most significant contribution to twentieth-century art. After long deliberation before the empty canvas, he used his entire body in a picture-making process that can be described as drawing in paint. By pouring streams of commercial paint onto the canvas from a can with the aid of a stick, Pollock made obsolete the conventions and tools of traditional easel painting. He often tacked the unstretched canvas onto the floor in an approach he likened to that of the Navajo Indian sand painters, explaining that “on the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”¹ Surrealist notions of chance and automatism are given full expression in Pollock’s classic poured paintings, in which line no longer serves to describe shape or enclose form, but exists as an autonomous event, charting the movements of the artist’s body. As the line thins and thickens it speeds and slows, its appearance modified by chance behavior of the medium such as bleeding, pooling, or blistering.
When Alchemy is viewed from a distance, its large scale and even emphasis encourage the viewer to experience the painting as an environment. The layering and interpenetration of the labyrinthine skeins give the whole a dense and generalized appearance. The textured surface is like a wall on which primitive signs are inscribed with white pigment squeezed directly from the tube. Interpretations of these markings have frequently relied on the title Alchemy; however, this was assigned not by Pollock, but by Ralph Manheim and his wife, neighbors of the Pollocks in East Hampton.
Lucy Flint

ECHO: NUMBER 25 - 1951
Enamel Paint on Canvas 
Dimensions: 233.4 x 218.4 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NUMBER 7 - 1950
Oil, Enamel, and Aluminum Paint on Canvas 
Dimensions: 58.5 x 268.6 cm
© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you're working out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge. Painting is a state of being. Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is."
- Jackson Pollock

Oil and Enamel on Canvas
Dimensions: 94 × 297 1/5 cm
Image Provided by Yale University Art Gallery / © Pollock-Krasner Foundation
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 208.6 x 147.3 cm
Credit: Gift of Lee Krasner in Memory of Jackson Pollock
© 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Museum of Modern Art Collection

UNTITLED (AFTER CR328) CR#1096 (P32, 1951
Screenprint, ed. 16/25
Dimensions: 58.4 × 73.7 cm
© Pollock-Krasner Foundation /
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Life and work
Source: Oxford University Press
He was the youngest of five sons and in his first 16 years moved 9 times with his family between California and Arizona. In 1928 he settled in Los Angeles, where he studied at the Manual Arts High School under the painter and illustrator Frederick John de St Vrain Schwankowsky. He learnt the rudiments of art and learnt about European and Mexican modernism. His teacher introduced him to the doctrines of Theosophy and of its former messiah, Jiddu Krishnamurti, which prepared Pollock, who had been brought up as an agnostic, to be open to contemporary spiritual concepts: the unconscious, Carl Gustav Jung’s analytical psychology and Surrealist automatism.
Like his brother Charles, who had left home in 1922 to study art, Pollock went to New York in 1930. He studied at the Art Students League with the Regionalist mural painter Thomas Hart Benton. He lived in poverty from 1933 until 1935, when he worked as a mural assistant and later easel painter on the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP). This provided a subsistence wage and the opportunity to experiment until 1943. During the Depression he often depended on his brothers, living in Greenwich Village first with Charles and then from 1934 to 1942 with his brother Sanford. In 1936 he joined David Alfaro Siqueiros’s Experimental Workshop and observed the aleatoric application of industrial enamels such as duco, which he later used in his poured paintings.
Pollock’s work before 1938 displays the influence of Benton, Albert Pinkham Ryder and the Mexicans Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco. The painting Going West (1934–5; Washington, DC, N. Mus. Amer. A.) is typical of this period. Set in a nocturnal landscape where the dynamic compositional vortex is a synthesis of Ryder’s atmospheres and Benton’s terrains, mules draw two wagons along a road in front of a rickety-looking general store. A full moon dominates the sky, the brightest portion of which reads as a human profile looking toward the lone muleteer. This small painting contains many of the characteristics of Pollock’s later Abstract Expressionist style and symbolism (see Abstract Expressionism): a vital linearity; emphasis on the four-footed animal, which appears throughout his work; dependence on motifs drawn from his personal history—here the team and wagons can be found in a family photograph of Cody—and the image of the Moon-woman, a theme of many subsequent works.
In 1938 Pollock spent four months in hospital undergoing psychiatric treatment for his alcoholism, which had begun in his adolescence. As a result he worked with two Jungian analysts, who used his drawings in the therapeutic process until 1941. This resulted in an obsessive exploration of his unconscious symbolism, mediated through the stylistic influence of Picasso, Orozco, Joan Miró and the theories of John Graham. The works he created parallel to his psychotherapy contain the elements of what became a personal iconography. A key painting in the Jungian process, Male and Female (c. 1942, Philadelphia, PA, Mus. A.), reveals the central conflict of Pollock’s personality at this time. To the left, a weak male figure with a bestial face below its breast, its eyes inverted and with a phallic snake curled between its legs, stands before a tower that erupts with freely poured pigment (the first appearance of this technique in Pollock’s work). Confronting the male is a female totemic figure consisting of a dominant column of mathematical calculations, a baleful maw and sensuous pink breasts and belly below. In 1942 the painter Lee Krasner moved into Pollock’s studio and they married in 1945.
When the WPA ended in 1943 Pollock’s first one-man exhibition was held at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of this Century Gallery, New York, and was followed by exhibitions there nearly every year until 1947. Between 1944 and 1945 he made engraving experiments at Atelier 17 under Stanley William Hayter’s supervision. Few of these were titled and their style was abstract, but the experience greatly influenced the linear quality of his mature painting style (see O’Connor and Thaw, iv, pp. 142–52). By 1948 Pollock had achieved a certain notoriety with the critics. His style evolved from the idiosyncratic surrealism of Male and Female and Moon-woman Cuts the Circle (c. 1943; Paris, Pompidou), through the revisionist cubistic facture of Gothic (1944; New York, MOMA) and Totem Lesson 1 (1944; Atherton, CA, Harry W. Anderson priv. col.) and the lyrical colour of Water Bull (c. 1946; Amsterdam, Stedel. Mus.), to the densely painted Eyes in the Heat (1946; Venice, Guggenheim) and to the first major poured paintings of 1947. The stylistic turning-point coincided chronologically with his marriage and move to East Hampton late in 1945. The rural setting enabled a more direct observation of nature, bringing a new freedom and vitality to his method of working while ‘veiling the image’, which had previously dominated his work.
From 1947 to 1952 Pollock created his most famous poured paintings, which he gave numbers rather than titles to avoid distracting the viewer with associations extraneous to the work. These works were also larger in scale. By 1950 he had painted such works as One: Number 31, 1950 (2.69x5.3 m; New York, MOMA) and Number 32, 1950 (Düsseldorf, Kstsamml. Nordrhein-Westfalen). During these years of intense creativity he was treated by a doctor who allayed his drinking with tranquillizers, but he began to drink heavily again in 1951. From this date Pollock painted in black on unprimed canvas, returning to his earlier symbolic imagery. Number 23, 1951/‘Frogman’ (1.05×1.42 m; Norfolk, VA, Chrysler Mus.), for instance, echoes a motif that can be traced to the drawings used in his Jungian therapy.
By late 1952 Pollock was searching for new breakthroughs, Convergence: Number 10, 1952 (3.96×2.37 m; Buffalo, NY, Albright-Knox A.G.) and Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 (4.87×2.1 m; Canberra, N.G.) being the results of this effort. His work of 1953, such as Portrait and a Dream (Dallas, TX, Mus. F.A.) and Ocean Greyness (1.46×2.29 m; New York, Guggenheim) recapitulated earlier styles and motifs with new power. The former contrasts a black pouring, which contains a portrait of his wife as Moon-woman, with a flamboyant self-portrait; the latter returns to the grey masking first used in She-wolf (1.7×1.06 m; 1943; New York, MOMA).
Pollock’s health, however, began to fail. Although he created a few strong paintings and drawings he was, by his last years, physically and mentally debilitated, unable to endure the pressures of life or the demands of an art world that claimed him as a leader, while he felt, with more or less justification, that it misunderstood and undervalued his achievements. During the summer of 1956 he was killed in a car accident.