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Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)

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Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)


Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) Untitled signed 'Jackson Pollock' (lower right) ink and gouache on paper 9½ x 8¾in. (24 x 22.3cm.) Executed circa 1945
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
Mrs. Marin Janis, Sherman Oaks, California.
Her sale, Sotheby's New York, 27 February 1980, lot 2.
Anon. Sale, Sotheby's New York, 9 May 1990, lot 97a.
Peter Blum, New York.
Acquired from the above by present owner.
F. V. O'Connor & E.V. Thaw, Jackson Pollock: a Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, Volume 4: Other works, 1930-1956, New Haven and London 1978, no. 1026 (illustrated, p. 100).
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Please note that the medium should read oil, ink and gouache on card and not as stated in the catalogue.

Lot Essay

Painted in 1945, this untitled painting belongs to the period in which Pollock's art stood on the threshold of the seemingly complete abstraction with which he would soon make his name and radically alter the nature of contemporary painting. The product of a profound inner struggle that had been ongoing since the late 1930s, Pollock's most famous works grew out of his practice of drawing on patterns and forms generated by his unconscious mind while engaged in the act of painting. Having been inspired by the powerful imagery of Picasso and during a period of analysis been encouraged to find his own personal archetypes and symbols as well as having investigated the ritualised practice of Navajo Indian sand painting and other Native American use of form and symbol, Pollock's art in the early 1940s became a melting pot of strange but highly totemic imagery.

Littered with figures and archetypes drawn increasingly from a private and personal mythology, Pollock's art reflected the increasing ferment of his unconscious mind and the emergence of a new freeform way of painting. 'Pollock has gone through the influences of Miró, Picasso, Mexican paintings and what not and has come out on the other side... painting mostly with his own brush,' Clement Greenberg wrote of his art at this time. 'In his search for style he is liable to relapse into an influence, but if the times are propitious, it won't be for long' (Clement Greenberg in: Nation, no. 17, 1945).

In this untitled painting, a totemic female figure standing on a sphere and dividing night from day stands at the centre of a swirling composition of loose painterly form. To her left a bull's head appears perhaps identifying this figure as yet another moon goddess or Moon-Woman. Abstracted with thick swirling lines of impasto that anticipate the free flowing forms of his famous 'Sounds in the Grass' series of the following year and yet still clearly figurative in both its structure and its imagery, it is a work that marks the very turning point of Pollock's career.



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