Jackson Pollock (American, Cody, Wyoming 1912–1956 East Hampton, New York )

Ink and colored pencils on paper
20 5/8 x 26in. (52.4 x 66cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Lee Krasner Pollock, in memory of Jackson Pollock, 1982
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2010 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Born in Wyoming and raised in Arizona and California, Jackson Pollock attended art school and worked in New York where he dominated the art scene in the 1940s and 1950s, becoming widely recognized as the leading Abstract Expressionist in America. Best known for the drip paintings that have come to exemplify the innovations and freedom of Abstract Expressionism, Pollock was also a gifted and prolific draughtsman. In fact, drawing played a seminal role throughout his career. He often used his sketches to work through artistic ideas and experiments, from the realistic studies of the 1930s to the personal symbolism of the 1940s and ultimately to the individually characteristic linear expressionism of the 1950s.

    Pollock's famous "War" is the only drawing he ever titled, and, although inscribed "1947," it relates to the iconographically complex images he produced earlier, around 1943–44. In this composition, the monstrous destruction of war is conveyed both by the fierceness of the graphic execution and by the imagery, much of which is camouflaged by the many linear motions, darkened and thickened and highlighted with flashes of red and yellow pencil to heighten the dramatic intensity. The drawing's narrative is one of horrific proportions. A human figure and a bull are flung onto a raging pyre of human debris. To the right, the crucifixion of a hooded figure is suggested. Some of the imagery may be traced to Picasso's pair of etchings "The Dream and Lie of Franco," and to the Spanish artist's epic painting on war, "Guernica," both from 1937. Yet even as Pollock's work engages with the history of art and offers a statement on the universal horrors of war, it also has a personal dimension, drawing on from the psychological language of Surrealism that fueled his early works.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: Signed and dated (lower right): Jackson Pollock 47

  • Exhibition History

    Atlanta: High Museum of Art, Jan.26-Apr.4, 1993; New York: MMA, May 4-Nov.7, 1993. ¦Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper¦, by Lisa Mintz Messinger. cat.#33, pp.84-98.

    Japan: The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. March 11 - June 4, 1995. ¦Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, Selections from the Metropolitan Museum of Art¦ Pg. 80 Fig. 47 illus. in color.

    Paris, France: Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou. December 19, 1996- April 7, 1997. ¦Face a l'Histoire, 1933 - 1996: L'artiste Moderne devant L'evenement Historique¦. Pg. 126, illus. in black and white.

    New York: The Museum of Modern Art, October 28, 1998 - February 2, 1999. ¦Jackson Pollock Retrospective¦. Pg. 196, no. 87 illus. in color.

    Humlebaek. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. "Jorn & Pollock - Revolutionary Roads," November 15, 2013–February 23, 2014, no. 36.

  • References

    No Limits, Just edges: Jackson Pollock paintings on paper, organized by Susan Davidson,exhibition catolog: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2005, p.79, no. 36.

    Stephen Polcari in Men of Fire: José Clemente Orozco and Jackson Pollock. Exh. cat., Hood Museum of Art. Hanover, N.H., 2012, p. 15, fig. 39 (color).

    Jeremy Lewison in Jorn & Pollock - Revolutionary Roads. Exh. cat., Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Humlebaek, 2013, pp. 56, 193, no. 36, ill. p. 108 (color).

  • See also