Sotheby's /Nov 4, 2015
€3,708,923.67 - €5,192,493.14
Artworks in Arcadja159
Some works of Jackson PollockExtracted between 159 works in the catalog of Arcadja
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Description: JACKSON POLLOCK - Untitled, circa 1944/1967 Condition Report: Request to receive a Condition Report for this item or any items in this auction by contacting the seller. Dimensions: I. 30 x 25 cm (11 3/4 x 9 7/8 in.) S. 50.8 x 34.9 cm (20 x 13 3/4 in.) Literature: numbered 21/50 in pencil in another hand, printed posthumously by Emiliano Sorini (with his and the Estate of Jackson Pollock's blindstamps), framed. Medium: Engraving and drypoint in brown-black, on heavy wove paper, with full margins, the third (final) state,
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JACKSON POLLOCK Untitled. Etching and drypoint on white wove Italia paper, 1944-45. 302x230 mm; 11 7/8x9 inches, full margins. Numbered 31/50 in pencil, lower right. Printed by Emiliano Sorini, New York, with the blind stamp lower left, in 1967. Published by the Pollock Estate, with the blind stamp lower left. A superb impression of this extremely scarce, important etching. Following is an account written by the printmaker Gabor Peterdi, who was entrusted with printing Pollock's surviving intaglio plates, "Shortly after Pollock's death, during the time when the MoMA was organizing the Pollock retropspective, I received a call from William Lieberman. He told me, they had discovered in Pollock's estate four plates in rather neglected condition--corroded, dirty, etc.--and they wanted to find out if they could be salvaged. Lieberman asked me whether I were willing to undertake this job. As Lieberman and I had a longstanding professional association, and as I also felt strongly that Pollock's work should be saved if possible, I consented to try. The four plates were in terrible condition, full of corrosion, with most of the drypoint flattened out. Further, the four plates contained six images, as two of the plates had images on both sides. This would create additional problems with printing. I cleaned the plates and reworked the drypoint on all six images. As I knew Pollock personally and worked together with him at Hayter's Atelier 17, I knew very well his own way of working so the restoration was no problem. Then I printed up some proofs (before steelfacing) of all the images and gave one set to the MoMA. At this time, I advised the museum that, after steelfacing, four of the images were sound enough to be printed in editions. The other two were weak, underetched images with too much corrosion. So, you could say it was I who decided which images to print, based entirely on what was feasible. All this (cleaning, restoration, printing of proofs) was done by me in my studio in Rowayton, Connecticut. I also recommended [Emiliano] Sorini to do the printing of the editions. Sorini had printed some of my own plates for me and, at that time, was teaching under my supervision in the Yale University printmaking workshop. Sorini made the prints in his own studio. I do not know who did the steelfacing. I had nothing to do with the choice of paper," (Gabor Peterdi, letter written March 13, 1987). Pollock's (1912-1956) New York apartment was located opposite of Atelier 17 and was frequented by other Abstract Expressionists such as William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell. It was here that Hayter instructed Pollock in the technique of drypoint and etching in the autumn of 1944. (Emmerling, Jackson Pollock: 1912-1952, p. 60). Pollock tested his method of building up an image with interlocking lines and brushstrokes, for which he would become famous, through his experimentation with etching. He reworked many of his etchings with ink and gouache; and in many cases, professionally printed impressions of his plates were not taken until after his death. O'Connor/Thaw 1081.
Auction: Sotheby's -Nov 11, 2015 - New-yorkLot number: 9
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Jackson Pollock 1912 - 1956 NUMBER 17, 1949 signed and dated 49 enamel and aluminum paint on paper mounted on fiberboard 22 1/4 x 28 3/8 in. 56.5 x 72 cm. Read Condition Report Read Condition Report Register or Log-in to view condition report Saleroom Notice Provenance Betty Parsons Gallery, New York Miss Dorothy Noyes, New Design Gallery Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London Sir John Heygate, Londonderry, Northern Ireland Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Inc., New York AG Foundation, Ohio (acquired from the above in 1970) Sotheby's, New York, May 13, 2003, Lot 19 (consigned by the above) Acquired by the present owner from the above Exhibited New York, Betty Parsons Gallery, Jackson Pollock: Betty Parsons Gallery, November - December 1949 Tokyo, Bridgestone Museum, International Contemporary Art, October - November 1957 New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Inc., Jackson Pollock, January - February 1964, cat. no. 100, illustrated (as Painting, 1949) Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Collects Contemporary Art, July - August 1972, cat. no. 85 (as No. 17A, 1949) and illustrated on the cover (detail) New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Oxford, The Museum of Modern Art; Düsseldorf, Stadtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Lisbon, Gulbenkian Foundation; Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Jackson Pollock: From Drawing into Painting, April 1979 - March 1980, cat. no. 36, p. 57, illustrated in color (Oxford, Düsseldorf and Paris) and cat. no. 36, p. 16, illustrated in color and p. 43, illustrated (Amsterdam) Cincinatti, The Contemporary Arts Center, Drawings: Selections, July - August 1982 New York, CDS Gallery, The Irascibles, February 1988 (curated by Irving Sandler) New York, Jan Krugier Gallery; Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, Victor Hugo and the Romantic Vision, May - July 1990, cat. no. 75 New York, C & M Arts, Jackson Pollock: Drip Paintings on Paper, 1948-1949, October - December 1993, n.p., illustrated in color New York, The Museum of Modern Art; London, Tate Gallery, Jackson Pollock: A Retrospective, November 1998 - June 1999, cat. no. 166, p. 265, illustrated in color and fig. 26, p. 57, illustrated (in installation at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1949) Literature Edward B. Henning, "Reconstruction: A Painting by Jasper Johns," The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art 60, no. 8, October 1973, fig. 12, p. 239, illustrated (as #17A, 1949) Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, eds., Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, Volume 2, Paintings, 1948-1955, New Haven, 1978, cat. no. 243, p. 65, illustrated Jeffrey Potter, To a Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, New York, 1985, n.p., illustrated (in installation at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1949) Peter Blake, No Place Like Utopia: Modern Architecture and the Company We Kept, New York, 1993, p. 111, illustrated (in installation at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1949) Martin Fuller, "Art at Heart," House Beautiful, June 2000, p. 144, illustrated in color (detail) Exh. Cat., London, Tate Liverpool (and travelling), Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, 2015, pp. 88 and 92, illustrated (in installation at Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1949) Catalogue Note THREE PRIMARY TEXTS ON JACKSON POLLOCK from the Betty Parsons Gallery records and personal papers, circa 1920-1991, bulk 1946-1983. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Betty Parsons on Jackson Pollock, circa 1949 I loved his looks. There was a vitality, an enormous physical presence. He was medium height but he looked taller. You could not forget his face. A very attractive man, ---oh very. He was always sad. He made you feel sad; even when he was happy he made you feel like crying. There was a desperation about him; there was something desperate. When he wasn’’t drinking he was shy, he could hardly speak. And when he was drinking he wanted to fight. He cussed a lot, used every 4-letter word in the book. You felt he wanted to hit you; I would run away. His whole rhythm was either sensitive or very wild. You never quite knew whether he was going to kiss your hand or throw something at you. The first time I went out to see him at Springs, Barney (Barnett Newman) brought me; we were planning Jack’’s first show. After dinner we all sat on the floor, drawing with some Japanese pens. He broke three pens in a row. His first drawings were sensitive, then he went wild. He became hostile, you know. Next morning he was absolutely fine. I had met him around New York since 1945. One day in ’’47 he telephoned me and said he wanted a show in my gallery. I gave him a show the next season. In all the time he was with me he was never drunk either during the show or during the hanging. At Sidney Janis’’ s it was different, once they waited for him until 4 in the morning to hang a show. Another year he telephoned me and asked me to give Lee a show of her paintings. I said I never show husbands and wives, but he insisted. He was charming with Lee when he was sober; she ruled the nest. But when he was drunk he ruled the nest. Lee always protected his business interests. Business ideas bored him, though he was fairly wise about them. He was either bored or terrified of society. He thought most women were terrible bores. He needed aggressive women to break through his shyness. He liked very few artists. He liked Newman, he liked Bradley Tomlin. He thought artists were either awful or terrible – it had entirely to do with their work. He thought he was the greatest painter ever, but at the same time he wondered. Painting was what he had to do. But he had a lot of the negative in him. He was apt to say, ‘It won’’t work – it’’ll never work.’’ When he got in those terrible negative states, he would drink. He associated the female with the negative principle. The conflict showed clearly in ‘The She Wolf’’ (1943). Inside himself there was a jungle. Some kind of jungle because during his life he was never fulfilled – never – in anything. Of course this didn’’t diminish his power as a painter. His conflicts were all in his life, not in his work. He was a questioning man. He would ask endless questions. He wanted to know what I thought about the world, about life. He thought I was such a jaded creature because I’’d travelled, he wanted to know what the outside world was like, Europe, Asia. He was also extremely intrigued with the inner world – what is it all about. He had a sense of mystery. His religiousness was in those terms – a sense of the rhythm of the universe, of the big order – like the Oriental philosophies. He sensed rhythm rather than order, like the Orientals rather than the Westerners. He had Indian friends, a dancer and his wife, (Mr. and Mrs. N. Vashti) with whom he talked at length and who influenced him greatly. His most passionate interest after painting was baseball. He adored baseball and talked about it often. He also loved poetry and meeting poets. He often talked about Joyce. He loved architecture and talked a lot about that too. He adored animals. He had two dogs and an old crow – he had tamed an old crow. He had that kind of overall feeling about the nature – about the cosmic – the power of it all – how scary it is. I could never relax with Jack. He certainly was pursued by devils. Life is an endless question mark, but most of us find a resolution – he never did. But I loved him dearly. The thing about Pollock is that he was completely unmotivated – he was absolutely pure . From my Journal – Sept. 25, 1949 – A week-end in Easthampton Evelyn Segal In the late afternoon we drove to the Jackson Pollocks, who live in a simple farm house (circa late 19 th cent.) – a farm house which was being transformed and converted by the needs and tastes of the two painters: Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner. We had only just arrived, having been greeted warmly by “Lee” as Hattie called Mrs. P., when Mr. Clement Greenberg arrived with his guests: Robert Motherwell, the Peter Scotts and a Miss Blumberg. Mrs. Pollock served drinks. I noticed a table with a handsome mosaic top and learned that Mrs. Pollock had made it. (She, too, is a fine painter) Then Mr. Pollock appeared; he consented tacitly to our seeing his paintings. We trooped to a barn. On the floor were huge canvases on which he had been working. There were many cans on the splattered floor – splatter of the duco, silverpaint, white lead, oils of various hue, et al, which he had used to make those mazes of linear space which some regard as chaos and with which he has caused such a “sensation.” We looked hard and silently, Mr. Motherwell, Mrs. Greenberg, Mr. and Mrs. Scott. One felt the strength of those paintings but moreover the serious violent effort toward a goal and significant statement. I am not certain just what I believe about them at this point, whether it is the materials themselves which have inherent strength and give them the power they appear to have or whether Mr. Pollock is an innovator in the application of his knowledge, experience and creative capacity – I do not know. The canvases are the size of murals. There is consistent color key, and suggestion of planned form (but not form in terms of definite, natural or usual shapes) – an orderly jungle of planes – linear planes, which created vast space and movement. There are depth and seriousness in the feelings which are evoked but few usual plastic images, the absence of which extends rather than limits the scope of meaning to the spectator. I saw many of the paintings flat on the floor from where he works which made it difficult to see them in the conventional way. I remember wide lines of black and silver paint with splattered frayed edges in many of the lines, but those splatters made for forms which became planes. Some had the texture and surface of enamels. They are bold! The principle of freedom, experiment and courage is evinced. Perhaps unconsciously – subjectively they are propelled by despair and anger and even exasperation. But assimilated experience and knowledge have facilitated these directions. Mr. Motherwell looked silently, as we did, all of us. He walked toward a painting, started to say something and then restrained himself, finally saying, “Oh well – one shouldn’’t ask a question about something a painter is still working on.” There were simple non-natural forms cut in a masonite panel on which he was painting, which made for definite recesses since they had actually been cut in like a linoleum block. The paint had been continued, sparingly onto the recessed parts, not obscuring the forms which had been cut there, but rather making again for planes – and ultimately space, the Masonite itself providing another color and texture. When asked later by Peter and Bob and Hattie and Jon what I said – what anyone had said – I reported that little had been said rightfully. A few technical questions had been asked and Mr. Pollock answered very succinctly. I mentioned the subtle differences in color key in each painting. That was the only definite, sincere statement I could make at the time… or would under the circumstances. Everyone thanked Mr. Pollock. There were some “They’’re terrifics” and Mrs. Scott obviously avoided the issue (most understandable) by saying, “Oh dear, it’’s just too much to absorb in one afternoon.” I think Mr. Pollock is sincere. There is power there. Whether or not he believes that these are ultimate realizations of his aims, I do not know, but I am inclined to doubt it. These paintings are not to be dismissed. The experimentation, daring, evidences of originality and intense creative effort are there. Pollock’’s paintings could be architectural accessories, and hung well and naturally on walls of contemporary architecture. They are not tender or romantic but neither are steel and concrete and plastics, or the materials used in contemporary structures. The paintings are personal but not intimate, and not familiar. BEAUTY -- AND JACKSON POLLOCK, TOO By Eli Siegel, December 1955 Thoughts about a phrase from the Critical Writing of Stuart Preston on Jackson Pollock, New York Times, December 4, 1955 No use looking for “beauty”… 1. There is a contemporaneous distrust of the word ‘beauty’’ which it is well to look into. 2. There is a feeling prevalent that while the word beauty might have been all right with the Greeks or in the Eighteenth Century or with the Pre-Raphaelites, we are beyond this; we are too tough for this, too modern. 3. It is felt that the unconscious working on, say, bits of paper, or a heap of broken brick or dishes in a sink, will get to art, perhaps, that is not beautiful as past art has been; even so, there is no reason why one can’’t or shouldn’’t take broken brick as a subject, or scraps of paper: art really doesn’’t mind, nor beauty, either. 4. The unconscious when it is completely unrestrained, untrammeled is opposed by critics to the idea of beauty, if not to that of impact , or of power , or of the elemental . 5. However, the aesthetic unconscious, if looked into, goes just as much for beauty in the primary, continuing, and still fresh sense of the conscious does. 6. The unconscious, as artistic, goes after unrestraint, but unrestraint as accurate; and when unrestraint is accurate, the effect on mind is still that of beauty. 7. No matter how unrestrained, elemental, untrammeled, without ‘forethought’’ Jackson Pollock is, or anyone else – if his work is successful, there is in this work power and calm, intensity and rightness, unrestraint and accuracy – and these, felt at once, make for beauty. 8. Because beauty has taken new forms, used material foreign to Veronese, Gainsborough, Ingres, Ryder, there is a disposition on the part of critics like Stuart Preston to think the word beauty is no longer alive and electrical. 9. It is alive; it stands for life at its liveliest, at the most free and the most true. 10. For example, the question comes up: What makes Jackson Pollock’’s unrestrained unconscious, ‘elemental and largely subconscious promptings,’’ better than somebody else’’ unrestrained unconscious and ‘subconscious promptings’’? 11. For everybody has an unconscious – very often unrestrained – and everybody has ‘subconscious promptings.’’ 12. The question for Mr. Preston and others is: What makes the unconscious or subconscious of Mr. Pollock, and the working without ‘forethought’’ of Mr. Pollock, better, more artistic, more commendable in result than similar things of the mind in so, so many others? 13. It is the presence of some rightness, fitness, structure, purpose, composition, design or whatever you wish to call it in Mr. Pollock – at least if you see his work as art, that is what you see in it besides the ‘subconscious,’’ the ‘promptings,’’ the ‘elemental.’’ 14. If Mr. Pollock’’s unconscious is artistically successful, it is because there is a logic in it, a rightness or knowingness; words of Mr. Preston himself, like ‘apparently aimless’’ imply some such thing – just look at the apparently ! 15. So we have spontaneity, elementalness, freedom, ardor in Mr. Pollock, and rightness, accuracy, logic, design, effect, too. 16. Spontaneity and rightness, intensity and accuracy are what we find in Delacroix, Bosch, Turner, Van Gogh, and – yes, Piero della Francesca. 17. Spontaneity and rightness seen in a work of art, make one feel it has form. 18. Form is a word still synonymous with beauty. 19. Beauty can be regarded as the apprehended presence of individual impetus and universal rightness, of unconscious and conscious – and at its bet, the apprehended presence of the utmost spontaneity with the utmost truthfulness, rightness. 20. However, unrestrained Mr. Pollock’’s unconscious is, it is going after design. 21. Otherwise, as was said (and it cannot be said too often) Mr. Pollock’’s ‘abandonment of forethought’’ would be like the lack of ‘forethought’’ we find anywhere, with people not particularly artistic – and there is a mighty lot of ‘subconscious promptings’’ in family squabbles, in sick rooms, in dull tavern brawls, in financial controversies. 22. People live differently today, but life goes on: the word life is as good as ever. 23. People go after beauty differently (for example, Jackson Pollock), but beauty is still around; the word beauty is as good as ever. 24. Mr. Preston is his effort to be desperately contemporary, has forgot to be deeply, vitally continuous – has forgot to be elemental in the very best sense. Fig. 1 Jackson Pollock at work in his Long Island studio, January 3, 1949, in East Hampton, New York Photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 2 Jackson Pollock at work in his Long Island studio, January 3, 1949, in East Hampton, New York Photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 3 Art dealer Betty Parsons standing in her New York City Gallery. The present work was first exhibited in Parsons’’’’ legendary 1949 solo Jackson Pollock exhibition. Photo by Eliot Elisofon/ The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © 2015 Barnett Newman Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York © City & County of Denver, Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 4 The present work installed in the exhibition Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting , The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1980 The Museum of Modern Art Archives, Photographer: Mali Olatunji. Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 5 The present work installed in the exhibition Jackson Pollock , The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998-99 Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY. © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 6 Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner walking outside on Long Island Photo by Martha Holmes/ The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Fig. 7 Jackson Pollock, Number 1A , 1948 , 1948 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 8 Jackson Pollock, Full Fathom Five , 1947 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 9 Portrait of ‘The Irascibles’’’’, November 1950 Photo by Nina Leen / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images Fig. 10 Willem de Kooning, Asheville , 1948 The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., USA / Bridgeman Images © 2015 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 11 Contact sheet of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner at their home in East Hampton, New York, c. 1949 Photo: Wilfrid Zogbaum Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution © 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York See More See Less
Auction: Sotheby's -Nov 4, 2015 - New-yorkLot number: 38
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Jackson Pollock 1912 - 1956 BLACK AND WHITE PAINTING III Enamel on canvas 56 1/4 by 49 in. 142.9 by 124.5 cm Painted circa 1951. Please note that in the print catalogue for this sale, this lot appears as number 38T. Read Condition Report Read Condition Report Register or Log-in to view condition report Saleroom Notice Authentication Please note that the loan of this painting has been requested for the exhibition Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, to be held at the Dallas Museum of Art, scheduled for November 2015 - March 2016. Provenance Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1951 Steve Burke, Cleveland, Ohio (acquired from the above circa 1951) Thompson Collection, New York Paul Kantor, Beverly Hills, California William Janss, Sun Valley, Idaho James Corcoran Gallery, Los Angeles (acquired from the above) Acquired from the above by A. Alfred Taubman in February 1979 Exhibited New York, American Federation of Arts, Dealer's Choice, November 1962, shown by the Betty Parsons Gallery Munich, Haus der Kunst, American Painting 1930-1980, November 14, 1981 - January 31, 1982, no. 187, illustrated in the catalogue New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jackson Pollock: Black Enamel Paintings, April 4 - June 2, 1990, no. 2, illustrated in the catalogue and illustrated in color on the cover Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, Pollock/Matters, September 1 - December 9, 2007 Literature Paul Facchetti, Numero: arte e litterature 4, no. 3, December 1952, p. 17, illustrated (incorrect orientation) Bryan Robertson, Jackson Pollock, New York, 1960, pl. 29, illustrated p. 55 (as Black and White Painting) (incorrect size) Italo Tomassoni, Pollock, Florence, 1968 (1978 printing), pl. 62, illustrated (as Black and White Painting) C.L. Wysuph, "Behind the Veil," Art News 69, no. 6, October 1970, discussed and illustrated p. 55 (as Black and White Painting) Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, eds., Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works: Volume II, Paintings 1948-1955, London and New Haven, 1978, no. 332, illustrated p. 150 (incorrect size) Roberta Smith, "By Jackson Pollock, With and Without Drips," The New York Times, April 13, 1990 Jo Applin, Gavin Delahunty, et al., Blind Spots: Jackson Pollock (exhibition catalogue), Tate Liverpool, London & Dallas Museum of Art, 2015, p. 55, illustrated in color Catalogue Note JACKSON POLLOCK, BLACK AND WHITE PAINTING III, 1951 Ellen G. Landau In January 1951, not long after the closing of Jackson Pollock’’s most recent solo exhibition where his now classic allover poured works of the prior year had been on initial view, the artist wrote a dejected letter to Alfonso Ossorio, one of his closest friends. Ossorio, an independently wealthy artist, was the purchaser of Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), the only canvas sold from that show by his dealer Betty Parsons. “I really hit an all time low—with depression and drinking—NYC is brutal,” Pollock described in obvious desperation. (Francis V. O’’Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, eds., Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978] v. 4, 257: document 94). That winter, he and his wife, the painter Lee Krasner, were staying at Ossorio’’s town house on MacDougal Alley while the latter was in Paris, and the experience of being back in the city had clearly not been positive. Soon after returning home to Long Island, Pollock sent Ossorio and his partner Ted Dragon an update. Writing on June 7th, he appeared a bit more confident and perhaps atypically outspoken about the changes occurring in his work. “I’’ve had a period of drawing on canvas in black—with some of my early images coming thru,” Jackson explained, adding with unusual insight, “think the non-objectivists will find them disturbing—and the kids who think it simple to splash a Pollock out.” (JPCR, v. 4, 261: document 99) Scholars and critics writing about Jackson Pollock’’s thirty-three known canvases of 1951, a stylistically coherent group later designated by Francis V. O’’Connor the “Black Pourings,” are in general agreement that the artist’’s latter statements to Ossorio and Dragon provide a number of critical reference points for analysis of these works. Most of his 1951 paintings were given number titles by Pollock, although not in order of their creation. Those few not numbered as such were simply denoted in Pollock’’s 1978 catalogue raisonné as Black and White Painting with appended Roman numerals I-III. Black and White Painting III (although oriented incorrectly) was first reproduced in December 1952 in an Italian magazine by Paul Fachetti, the gallerist who, less than a year earlier, had introduced Pollock’’s work in France. This circumstance was facilitated by Ossorio’’ s connection with the Parisian critic Michel Tapié. Better sales resulted from Pollock’’s show at Studio Paul Fachetti that March; Black and White Painting III, already acquired from Parsons by a Cleveland collector, was not on view. In the majority of paintings in the “Black Pouring” series Pollock limited his means to thinned black industrial enamel stained, pooled and/or softly blotted into unprimed canvas, sized either first or at completion with Rivet glue. In the final result, glossy and matte effects combine. While, as the title of this example demonstrates, these works have often been characterized as “black and white,” their raw canvas supports actually exhibit a light tan hue and no white pigment was used. Occasionally Pollock laid down the primary forms in sepia—as poet-curator Frank O’’Hara remarked, the “color of dried blood”—instead of using black. Although that modification is not the case here, the facture of Black and White Painting III is identical to works in the series exhibiting either scheme. (Frank O’’Hara, Jackson Pollock [New York: George Braziller, 1959], 30) All of the “Black Pourings” were created flat on the floor of Pollock’’s barn studio, not with a traditional wet brush but, as in works such as Lavender Mist and Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950 made the previous year, by dripping paint from sticks or from brushes stiff with dried pigment. He also squirted or poured paint with a basting syringe, using it, Lee Krasner explained, “like a giant fountain pen.” With these large syringes, Krasner described, “he had to control the flow of ink as well as his gesture.” (B.H. Friedman, “An Interview with Lee Krasner Pollock,” Jackson Pollock: Black and White [New York: Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, 1969], 7-10) The larger canvases of 1950, as documented in more than 500 images of the artist at work by photographer Hans Namuth, had been placed on the barn floor unstretched, but already cut to size before Pollock began to paint. To the contrary, in order to create the subsequent black enamel works, he rolled out roughly twenty feet sections of a bolt of canvas duck, heavy enough so that no weighting would be required. Krasner continued to describe: "With the larger black-and-whites he’’d either finish one and cut it off the roll or canvas, or cut it off in advance and then work on it. But with the smaller ones he’’d often do several on a large strip of canvas and then cut that strip from the roll to make more working space and to study it. Sometimes he’’d ask, 'Should I cut it here? Should this be the bottom?' He’’d have long sessions of cutting and editing, some of which I was in on, but the final decisions were always his. Working around the canvas—in 'the arena' as he called it—there really was no absolute top or bottom. And leaving space between paintings there was no absolute 'frame' the way there is working on a pre-stretched canvas. . . ." How the initial uncut state looked with multiple images in rows is visible in photographs of original scrolls hanging on Pollock’’s studio wall also shot by Namuth. All of the works edited into smaller individual compositions measure roughly 56 inches in height. Black and White Painting III was therefore not originally conceived as a separate narrative, despite its unambiguously representational elements. In her extremely informative 1969 interview with B.H. Friedman about what she termed the “Black and Whites,” Lee Krasner recalled her husband’’s output of the late 1930s and early 1940s, stating unequivocally, “For me, all of Jackson’’s work grows from this period; I see no more sharp breaks, but rather a continuing development of the same themes and obsessions.” More so than in many other examples dating to 1951, in Black and White Painting III, Pollock directly referenced the disturbing nature of some of his own “early images,” in which eroticism and aggression were often combined. The composition of Black and White Painting III seems especially to echo Pollock’’s tendency, before his breakthrough to maturity, to amalgamate ideas from the Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco with Picasso’’s expressive deformations, as a way to investigate his own troubled psyche. Throughout his life (and long after he became known as an abstractionist) Jackson Pollock would continue to proclaim that Prometheus, Orozco’’s 1930 mural at Pomona College in Claremont California, was “the greatest painting” in North America. A modified version of the epic pose of Prometheus is perhaps echoed in the main protagonist’’s assertive stance in Black and White Painting III. This figure has been identified as a monkey because of its simian-looking face, but the rest of its body seems to belie such pat categorization. Indeed, with its heroic outstretched arms and halo-like appurtenance it could be read as Christ-like, and Pollock occasionally included elements associated with the Crucifixion in some earlier drawings. Alternatively, the unusual head configuration might hark back to the type of circular Native American mask seen on Naked Man painted by Pollock c. 1938. Yet another prospect might suggest additional allusion to Orozco’’s mural study, The Two Natures of Man, modified by Pollock into a rather more violent allegory in the Tate Gallery’’ s c. 1938-40 canvas Naked Man with Knife. Another comment by O’’Hara on Pollock’’s 1951 output—“These are disturbing, tragic works. They cry out. What this must have meant to him after the Apollonian order of Autumn Rhythm is unimaginable”—seems especially pertinent to any analysis of Black and White Painting III. (O’’Hara, 30) It may not be irrelevant that Ossorio had recently given Pollock a book on Goya’’s engravings and lithographs, including the Disasters of War, published in Madrid in 1928. O’’Hara made the above remark in a monograph on the artist he published only a few years after Pollock’’s untimely death at age 44 in August 1956. Of course, we now know he had been drawing in black additional personage forms in the first layer of a number of the classic allover pictures, Autumn Rhythm included. This surmise by some was given evidentiary proof in several frames of Namuth’’s 1950 black and white film depicting Pollock at work, and scientific backing by the efforts of conservators at The Museum of Modern Art in preparation for the artist’’s 1998 retrospective. Mere weeks before his fatal auto crash, Pollock told his last interviewer Selden Rodman, “When you’’re working out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge.” (Selden Rodman, Conversations with Artists [New York: Devin-Adair, 1957], 82) Indeed, to the surprise of many, Pollock stoutly maintained to Rodman his continual adherence to representationality. As noted by one reviewer when the (not yet named) “Black Pourings” were first shown, in these “nightmarish” images that “carry horrific suggestive power” Pollock “deliberately brought to the surface elements previously driven underground.” (Howard Devree, New York Times, December 2, 1951) Ossorio’’s introduction to Pollock’’s exhibition of his 1951 works at Betty Parsons proclaims them “another assertion of the unity of concept that underlies the work of Jackson Pollock,” confirming that “the singleness and depth of Pollock’’s vision makes unimportant such current antitheses as ‘figurative’’ and ‘non-representational.’’” (Alfonso Ossorio, introduction, Jackson Pollock 1951 [New York: Betty Parsons Gallery, November 26-December 15, 1951], n.p.) In these enamels on canvas, as drawing specialist Bernice Rose would later explain, Pollock continued to re-examine and re-invent the whole concept of how line works, and of how forms are “described” in art. (Bernice Rose, Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting [Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, 1979], 27) By maintaining the closeness to original impulse of the sketch in his direct approach to execution of such compositions as Black and White Painting III, Jackson Pollock radically advanced the terms by which painting could and should be understood. Fig. 1 André Masson, Automatic Drawing , 1924 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art / Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Fig. 2 Pablo Picasso, The Charnel House , 1944-45 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY, © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 3 Pollock in his studio, 1948 Photo by Martha Holmes/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Fig. 4 Franz Kline, Flanders , 1961 Private Collection, Sold Sotheby’’’’s New York, May 2015, © 2015 The Franz Kline Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Fig. 5 Alberto Giacometti, l’’’’homme qui chavire , 1947 © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Fig. 6 Pollock’’’’s Long Island Studio, Springs, East Hampton, New York Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images See More See Less
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Jackson Pollock Number 8 (Black Flowing) , 1951 Number 8 (Black Flowing) , 1951 Screenprint, a very scarce, lifetime impression, on Strathmore paper (with partial blindstamp upper right corner), with margins, I. 43 x 58.3 cm (16 7/8 x 22 7/8 in.) S. 57 x 70 cm (22 1/2 x 27 1/2 in.) signed, dated '51' and annotated 'Ed 25/17' in pen and ink, framed.