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Property from the Collection of Barbara and Donald Jonas and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation


signed and dated 'Jackson Pollock 51' (upper right)
ink and watercolor on Japanese paper
24 5/8 x 34 1/8 in. (62.5 x 86.7 cm.)
Executed in 1951.
Estate of the artist
Lee Krasner, New York
Mr. and Mrs. B.H. Friedman, New York, gift from the above
Jackson Friedman, New York
Ben Heller, New York
Donald and Barbara Jonas, New York, 1982
Partial gift to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992
F. V. O'Connor and E. V. Thaw, eds., Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works, Volume 3: Drawings 1930-1956, New Haven and London, 1978, p. 303, no. 824 (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Drawings by Jackson Pollock, November 1957, no. 41.
Kunsthaus Zürich, Jackson Pollock, October-November 1961, n.p., no. 113., fig. 13 (illustrated).
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Jackson Pollock, January-February 1964, no. 129 (illustrated).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art; Grand Rapids Art Museum; Minneapolis, University Gallery, University of Minnesota; Seattle Art Museum; The Denver Art Museum; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; The Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts and Champaign-Urbana, Krannert Art Museum, 20th Century American Drawings, September 1964-December 1965, no. 101.
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Jackson Pollock, April-June 1967, pp. 112-113 (illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art, Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting, February-March 1980, p. 83 (illustrated).
New York, Museum of Modern Art and London, Tate Gallery, Jackson Pollock, October 1998-June 1999, p. 291, no. 204 (illustrated).
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Global Guggenheim: Selections from the Extended Collection, February-April 2001.
Berlin, Deutsche Guggenheim; Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection and New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper, January-September 2006, p. 117, no. 71 (illustrated).
Tate Liverpool and Dallas Museum of Art, Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, June 2015-March 2016.

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Hailing from a pivotal moment of Jackson Pollock’s career, Untitled was realized just one year after the artist’s inclusion in the Venice Biennale. It also came at a turning point when he seemed to abandon purely non-representational work in favor of abstracted human and animal forms. This shift was still developing when the present example was made as it exhibits touches of his later style in the form of discrete and deliberate marks that merge with the free movement of his earlier poured works. The crosshatching of orange lines bears a fleeting resemblance to the abstract canvases of Piet Mondrian, as similarity noted when Frank Stella saw this connection and wrote in his book Working Space: "A modest leap of the imagination will link Mondrian's late paintings with the famous drip paintings of Pollock, especially paintings like Number 1, 1948 and Number 28, 1951. What is interesting about this link is the way in which it shows us the marriage of rhythm and structure, the salient feature of Broadway Boogie-Woogie being repeated a few years later with what appear to be surprising results” (F. Stella, Working Space London, 1986, pp. 83-4). Though known for his freely poured abstractions and his visceral gestures on canvas, Pollock was long a student of art history, both European and North American. He pulled from myriad sources like Indigenous artworks of the American West, Pablo Picasso, and the great Mexican muralists like Jose Clemente Orozco. This knowledge coalesced into a singular visual vocabulary that shows itself in the hybrid symbols littered throughout Untitled.

Using ink and watercolor, Untitled continues to explore Pollock’s emotive gestures on a supple base of Japanese paper. Amorphous dusky pools cluster and swirl over the page, the ink and paint mixing with water and then drying again in textural fields. The aforementioned hatching in light red-orange watercolor burst like small explosions in a smoky field, their presence lending frenetic anxiety to the work. Over the top of these more translucent elements, Pollock spatters thick black ink that appears almost harsh and crude against its aqueous brethren. Nonetheless, by pairing these disparate elements, he creates a visual harmony that ripples and cascades upon the surface of the paper, casting allusions to some of his more monumental paintings. In doing so, he further supported the glowing praise of esteemed critic Clement Greenberg who noted, "[Pollock] is the first painter I know of to have got something so positive from the muddiness of color that so profoundly characterizes a great deal of American painting" (C. Greenberg, quoted by M. Dearborn, Peggy Guggenheim: Mistress of Modernism, London, 2005, p. 261). Even within its rambunctious chaos, it is easy to perceive a masterful hand exploring the complexities of pictorial space and the physicality of mark-making.

Pollock’s works on paper exist in conversation with his greater oeuvre and exhibit the same primal energy of his larger works on a more intimate scale. Heavily inspired by the Surrealists and their ideas about automatic drawing, he continued to investigate the pictorial space through an expression rooted in his innermost feelings and desires throughout his momentous career. Spurred by time spent under Jungian analysis to deal with his persistent alcoholism, the artist looked into the deepest areas of his own mind in an attempt to make a more authentic conversation visible upon the painted surface. While his massive canvases held in numerous important collections show bravado and overwhelming energy, the relatively smaller works like Untitled offer a closer connection to the artist’s own hand.

The proceeds from the sale of Untitled will be used to benefit Jonas Philanthropies and the Guggenheim. Focusing on providing healthcare to the most vulnerable members of society, Jonas Philanthropies’ first and largest impact area has been Nursing. They now also do extremely meaningful work in Vision, Environmental Health and Climate Change.

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