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    Sale 8436

    Contemporary Art, Part I

    7 May 1996, New York, Park Avenue

  • Lot 22

    Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)

    Something of the Past

    Price Realised  


    Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
    Something of the Past
    signed and dated 'J. Pollock '46' lower center
    oil on canvas
    56 x 38in. (142.3 x 96.5cm.)

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    In January of 1947, Jackson Pollock's fourth and final exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery was held. The exhibition contained sixteen paintings from two series painted in 1946: Sounds in the Grass and Accabonac Creek.

    Pollock moved away from New York and the pressures and distractions of the city, to Springs on Long Island in November 1945. The two series of 1946 showed the fruits of his labors in the country. The Accabonac Creek paintings are mostly abstract figurations done during the first half of the year. The Sounds in the Grass series 'introduced a less overtly figurative style, with richer paint handling and overall compositions, which preceeded the artist's freely poured paintings of 1947' (F.V. O'Connor and E.V. Thaw, Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, vol. 1, p. 133).

    The highly influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote a glowing review of the 1947 Art of This Century exhibition in The Nation, in which he stated:

    'Jackson Pollock's fourth one-man show in so many years...is the best since his first one and signals what may be a major step in his development--which I regard as the most important so far of the younger generation of American painters. He has now largely abandoned his customary heavy black-and-whitish or gun-metal chiaroscuro for the higher scales, for alizarins, cream-whites, cerulean blues, pinks, sharp greens...Pollock has gone beyond the stage where he needs to make his poetry explicit in ideographs. What he invents instead has perhaps, in its very abstractness and absence of assignable definition, a more reverberating meaning.'

    While the Accabonac Creek series showed Pollock in a lighter mood, the Sounds in the Grass paintings are more claustrophobic, and project feelings of tension and anxiety. 'In a representative example, the jagged, nervous-looking canvas Something of the Past, Pollock succeeded in communicating these sensations through his choice of color, the aggressively haphazard organization of predominantly angular forms, and his much more assertive application of paint' (E. Landau, Jackson Pollock, New York 1989, p. 163).

    Something of the Past owes much to Pollock's previous mythic, totemic images of the mid-1940s, but its bold paint application and rhythmic structure are sure signs of the freedom that he felt in Springs, where his closeness to nature fed his spirit, and where he could experiment unencumbered by the criticism of his peers in the City.

    In addition to Something of the Past, other masterpieces in the Sounds in the Grass series include Shimmering Substance (Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York) and Eyes in the Heat (Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice).


    Art of This Century, New York.
    Peggy Guggenheim, Venice.
    Michel Tapié, Paris.
    Felix Landau Gallery, Los Angeles.
    Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. Anderson, Atherton.
    Harold Diamond, New York.
    A Midwestern collector (acquired in 1970).
    By descent to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of


    Tiger's Eye, Mar. 1948, vol. I, no. 3, p. 106 (illustrated).
    I. Tomassoni, Pollock, New York 1968, no. 36 (illustrated and titled Composition 1946).
    F. Bayl, "Jackson Pollock," Die Kunst und das Schore Hein 9, June 1961, p. 331, no. 3 (illustrated).
    New International Illustrated Encyclopedia of Art, New York 1967, vol. 1 (illustrated on frontispiece and titled Composition).
    F.V. O'Connor, and E.V. Thaw, Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, New Haven and London 1978, vol. 1, p. 153, no. 160 (illustrated).


    New York, Art of This Century, Jackson Pollock, Jan.-Feb. 1947, no. 6.
    Ithaca, Cornell University, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years, Mar.-May 1978, no. 66.
    East Hampton, Guild Hall Museum, and New York University, Grey Art Gallery and Studies Center, Krasner and Pollock: A Working Relationship, Aug.-Dec. 1981.
    Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Masterworks from Fort Worth Collections, Apr.-June 1992, p. 37, no. 11 (illustrated).