New York

The general quality that emerged from such pictures, especially (Number) Nineteen, seemed more than enough to justify the claim that Pollock is one of the major painters of our time.” Clement Greenberg

New York - On 15 May 2013, Christie’s will present a 20th Century masterwork by Jackson Pollock as the preeminent highlight of the spring Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Jackson Pollock’s Number 19, 1948, was created during the artist’s most important period, 1947-1950.  Using silver, black, and white, accented by vibrant notes of red and green, he creates a shimmering surface that celebrates his iconic drip style.

If Pollock’s drip paintings are among the best-known paintings of the 20th century, the sale of Number 19 this spring in New York is an exceptional and unique opportunity for collectors and institutions to acquire this iconic masterpiece. Innumerable layers of delicate dripped paint reveal the captivating circular movement of Pollock’s hand. Number 19 is one of those paintings you get lost in,declared Brett Gorvy, Chairman and International Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art.

Number 19, 1948 is one of the great drip paintings that Jackson Pollock made in a legendary three-year burst of creativity between 1947 and 1950 that completely revolutionized American painting and reshaped the history of twentieth century art. Displaying a fascinatingly intricate, dense, dynamic and animated abstract surface - one that reveals the artist’s complete mastery of his radical new medium of pouring and dripping enamel paint onto an unprimed ground - the painting is one of the most engaging and successfully resolved of all these much-celebrated works.

The year 1948 marked the moment that Pollock gained complete mastery over the drip technique and the beginning of its expansion into paintings that were less compositions on a theme than fields of painterly activity and self-expression.  As if to reinforce this sense of his work as an action and a direct translating of his unconscious experience onto canvas rather than any descriptive attempt at composing a picture around a subject, Pollock abandoned at this time the use of all descriptive titles, preferring, from this year onwards, to simply number his pictures.

Having developed his technique in the first great drip paintings of 1947, Pollock was also, by 1948, able to control to a great extent the way in which his thinned enamel paint fell and formed on the surfaces below it.  Partially the product of a dancing performance, working on the painting from all sides, Pollock, as many onlookers to his working method at this time observed, seemed to create these works by drawing and gesturing in the space above them. As the gossamer-like lines of different colour and the fascinating depth and space they create in a work such as Number 19, 1948 show, Pollock, in his finest creations, displayed an extraordinary command over both his medium and the complexity of the image generated. The unique freeform manner of painting that Pollock pioneered in a painting such as this represented not only the creation of some of the most mesmeric and enduringly fascinating pictorial structures in all of twentieth century art, but it also, in its near miraculous union of space, force, energy, gravity, material and physical gesture, opened up an entirely new dimension of painting.


London - King Street                                                                                           10- 16 April 2013

Sale Preview

New York – 20 Rockefeller Plaza                                                                      11 – 15 May 2013


Post-War and Contemporary Art, Evening Sale                                              15 May 2013

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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.