Like many New York School artists, Jackson Pollock was heavily influenced by various modern artists before developing his own breakthrough style. After working through the influence of Thomas Hart Benton and Albert Pinkham Ryder in the early 1930s, followed by an engagement with the Mexican muralists, Pollock confronted European modernism, particularly Picasso.
Untitled (Equine Series IV) is from a small series of paintings, executed in 1944, in which he utilized Picasso like shapes and forms, exhibiting Pollock's personal brand of Cubism. In each of these works, Pollock attempts to express the tormented psyche of modern man by using distortion to create a mask that reveals the inner state of man. Untitled (Equine Series IV) is filled with forms that are vaguely suggestive of male and female physical characteristics, but their absolute definitions remain latent to biomorphic stylizations.
Lee Krasner recalled the artist's process at this time, stating that Pollock "began with more or less recognizable imagery--heads, parts of the body, fantastic creatures. Once I asked Jackson why he didn't stop the painting when a given image was exposed. He said: 'I choose to veil the imagery.'" Indeed, specific figures in Untitled (Equine Series IV) are subsumed or transcended as the work attempts to approach deeper layers of the psyche and become representational of the unconscious. Several of these formal aspects herald the salient traits of the artist's subsequent breakthrough into drip paintings. Although indebted to other sources, in Untitled (Equine Series IV), Pollock was able to create a work that has a frenetic, nervous energy that runs throughout his oeuvre.