Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)

Composition with Oval Forms

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Composition with Oval Forms
signed 'Jackson Pollock' (on the reverse)
oil on Masonite
10 ½ x 16 ¾ in. (26.7 x 42.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1934-1938.
Marvin Jay Pollock, Monterey Park, California, gift of the artist
Stephen Mazoh and Jason McCoy, New York
Andy Warhol, New York
His sale; Sotheby's, New York, 3 May 1988, lot 3372
Private collection, New York
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 8 November 1990, lot 308
Private collection, Italy
Galerie Cazeau-Be´raudie're, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2007
F. V. O'Connor and E. V. Thaw, Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, Volume 1: Paintings, 1930-1947, New Haven and London, 1978, pp. 40-41, no. 55 (illustrated incorrectly as no. 56).
Pinacothèque de Paris, Jackson Pollock et le Chamanisme, October 2008-February 2009, pp. 138-139, no. 19 (illustrated on the cover).
New York, Pace Gallery, Mythology, February-April 2012.

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Rachael White
Rachael White

Lot Essay

Born in Cody, Wyoming in 1912, Jackson Pollock arrived in New York City in 1930 by way of Arizona and California, a young artist without a formal training nor direction, but one determined to succeed as an artist. As such, the 1930s were a period of self-discovery for Pollock—both physically with his materials and psychologically—to imbue his work with meaning. These circumstances give his work from this period a certain unrefined rawness. This body of work can also be seen as a response to the burgeoning artistic styles surrounding him, which became a primary source of inspiration.
Pollock spent his first two years in New York studying under Thomas Hart Benton, whose all-American regionalist approach also appealed to the young artist's western roots. Indeed, the American West had a certain mystique for Pollock, which he would continually draw on. Since his youth, Pollock had been fascinated by Native American art and symbols, exploring Indian mounds and cliff dwellings with his brothers in Arizona. These influences are clearly evident in the stylized and abstracted landscape in Composition with Oval Forms, circa 1934-1938. The bold, brushy blues and yellows create a vibrant contrast against the rich brown background, flattening the picture plane and giving the work a kind of immediacy and two-dimensionality that is suggestive of a cave painting. The piece seems to be imbued with a sense of primal energy—an energy that for Pollock was inextricably bound up with the act of painting itself. This notion—the unleashing of a primal energy through the physical act of painting—would ultimately lead him several years later to tack his canvases to the studio floor and dance about them in a sort of ritualistic trance as he painted.

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