Finished just after Pollock's first exhibition in 1943 at Peggy Guggenheim's New York gallery, Art of This Century, Pasiphaë is the largest of the painter's mythologically themed pictures of the mid-1940s. Originally named Moby Dick, the picture was retitled before it was exhibited in 1944 when James Johnson Sweeney, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, related the story of the Cretan princess Pasiphaë who gave birth to the half-man, half-bull Minotaur. The Minotaur had been a favorite motif of Picasso and of the Surrealists (Minotaure had been the name of their literary magazine from 1933 to 1939, for which Picasso had designed the first cover).
Here Pollock incorporates two sentinel-like standing figures at the left and right and a prostrate figure at center. Pollock weaves these figures into a complex field of arcane symbols and free-form abstraction, his own novel interpretation of the Surrealist practice of automatism, wherein the artist's unconscious is used to organize composition.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): Jackson Pollock
the artist, Springs, N.Y. (1943–at least 1955; gift to Krasner); Lee Krasner Pollock, New York (until 1982; sold to MMA)
New York. Art of this Century. "First Exhibition in America of 20 Paintings," April 11–May 6, 1944, no. 16.
Arts Club of Chicago. "Jackson Pollock," March 5–31, 1945, no. 6.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Jackson Pollock," August 7–26, 1945, no. 6.
Bennington College. "A Retrospective Show of the Paintings of Jackson Pollock," November 17–21, 1952, no. 1 (dates it 1944).
Williamstown. Lawrence Art Gallery. "A Retrospective Show of the Paintings of Jackson Pollock," December 1–21, 1952, no. 1.
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "15 Years of Jackson Pollock," November 28–December 31, 1955, no. 4 (lent by the artist).
Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. "Pollock, IV Bienal," September 22–December 31, 1957, no. 5 (lent by Lee Krasner Pollock, Springs, Long Island, New York).
Rome. Museo Nazionale Romano. "Jackson Pollock: 1912–1956," March 1–30, 1958, no. 5 (lent by Lee Krasner Pollock, Springs, Long Island, New York).
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Jackson Pollock et las nouvelle peinture américaine," January 16–February 15, 1959, no. 5.
Kassel. Museum Fridericianum. "Documenta II," July 11–October 11, 1959, no. 1 (lent by Lee Krasner Pollock, New York).
Düsseldorf. Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen. "Jackson Pollock," September 5–October 8, 1961, no. 60.
Kunsthaus Zürich. "Jackson Pollock," October 24–November 29, 1961, no. 60.
Moderna Museet, Stockholm. "Jackson Pollock," February–April 1963, no. 60 (same as Exh. Düsseldorf and tour 1961).
New York. Marlborough-Gerson Gallery. "Jackson Pollock," January–February 1964, no. 61.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "New York School, the First Generation: Paintings of the 1940s and 1950s," July 16–August 1, 1965, no. 76 (see Ref. Tuchman 1971).
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Fifty Years of Modern Art, 1916–1966," June 14–July 31, 1966, no. 86 (lent by the Marlborough–Gerson Gallery).
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Jackson Pollock," April 5–June 4, 1967, no. 13 (lent by the estate of the artist).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Jackson Pollock," July 19–September 3, 1967, no. 13.
Baltimore Museum of Art. "From El Greco to Pollock: Early and Late Works by European and American Artists," October 22–December 8, 1968, no. 136 (lent by the Marlborough–Gerson Gallery, Inc., collection of Lee Krasner Pollock).
London. Hayward Gallery. "Dada and Surrealism Reviewed," January 11–March 27, 1978, no. 15.42 (lent by Lee Krasner Pollock).
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Jackson Pollock," January 21–April 19, 1982, unnumbered cat. (collection of Lee Krasner Pollock).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "30 Painters: Recent Acquisitions," January 26–March 14, 1982, brochure no. 24.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selection One," February 1–April 30, 1985, no catalogue.
Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 67).
Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Jackson Pollock," November 1, 1998–February 2, 1999, no. 69.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Thomas Hart Benton’s 'America Today' Mural Rediscovered," September 30, 2014–April 19, 2015, no catalogue (see MMA Bulletin 72, Winter 2015).
B. H. Friedman. "Profile: Jackson Pollock." Art in America 43 (December 1955), p. 59.
Sam Hunter. "Jackson Pollock: The Maze and the Minotaur." New World Writing (1956), pp. 185, 188, describes this work as a result of a combination of influences, ranging from the baroque to Picasso and Miró.
Dore Ashton. "Art." Arts and Architecture 73 (January 1956), p. 10, calls this work one of the most exciting in the show; attempts to find the Pasiphae story in the composition; urges younger artists to strive for Pollock's achievements.
Sam Hunter. Pollock. Exh. cat., The International Council at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1957, unpaginated, no. 5, describes this work as an example of Pollock's adaption of surrealist devices.
Parker Tyler. "Hopper/Pollock." Art News Annual 26 (1957), p. 87, ill. p. 103.
Sam Hunter. Jackson Pollock 1912–1956. Exh. cat., Whitechapel Gallery , organized by The International Council at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. London, 1958, p. 10.
Parker Tyler. "Reviews and Previews." Art News 57 (April 1958), p. 15.
Frank O'Hara. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1959, pp. 19–20, colorpl. 15, finds imagery from the Pasiphae myth in this painting, incuding the artist's signature in the rectangle at lower left, calling it a "recognition of the ritual which he [Pollock] is renewing"; [but see Ref. Robertson 1960].
Sam Hunter. Modern American Painting and Sculpture. New York, 1959, pp. 143–44.
William Rubin. "Notes on Masson and Pollock." Arts 34 (November 1959), p. 42, ill., compares Masson's "Pasiphae" (1943) to Pollock's; notes that despite many similarities, this painting is not a variation on Masson.
Bryan Robertson. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1960, pp. 138–39, colorpl. 98, states that this work was originally called "Moby Dick" and renamed by James Johnson Sweeney after he shared the legend of the wife of Minos of Crete with Pollock during a meeting; describes this work as a reflection of Pollock's interest in the dualities of human nature, particularly that of sexual union and death.
Friedrich Bayl. "Jackson Pollock." Die Kunst und das schöne Heim 9 (June 1961), p. 330, fig. 2.
Dore Ashton. The Unknown Shore: A View of Contemporary Art. Boston, 1962, pp. 45–46.
Ulf Linde. "Jackson Pollock." Louisiana Revy 4 (September 1963), ill. p. 4.
Rosalind E. Krauss. Within the Easel Convention: Sources of Abstract–Expressionism. Exh. cat., Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums. Cambridge, 1964, p. 10.
Henry Geldzahler. American Painting in the Twentieth Century. New York, 1965, p. 186.
Sidney Tillim. "The Figure and the Figurative in Abstract Expressionism." Artforum 4 (September 1965), ill. p. 46.
Philip Leider. "The New York School in Los Angeles." Artforum 4 (September 1965), pp. 8, 11, in a review of Exh. Los Angeles 1965, justifies the inclusion of Richard Pousette-Dart's "Dark Fugue No. 2" (1943) based on its similarity to this painting.
Werner Haftmann. Painting in the Twentith Century: An Analysis of the Artists and Their Work. New York, 1965, p. 348, pl. 896, erroneously implies that this painting was included in the artist's first one–man show at Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery in 1943 and identifies the images from the Pasiphae myth in the composition [but see Ref. O'Connor and Thaw 1978].
Francis V. O'Connor. "The Genesis of Jackson Pollock, 1912 to 1943." PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1965, pp. 226–27, pl. 81, notes that this painting was not included in Pollock's 1943 one–man show at Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery; describes similarities in its composition with Pollock's "The Guardians of the Secret" painted in the same year; identifies the central motif as presumably Pasiphae making love to her bull; argues that Robertson's [Ref. 1960] explanation for the change in title from "Moby Dick" is more plausible than Rubin's [Ref. 1959] suggestion that Pollock was influenced by Masson's "Pasiphae," noting that Masson's influence is not evident until 1944–45.
Edward B. Henning. Fifty Years of Modern Art, 1916–1966. Exh. cat.Cleveland, 1966, unpaginated, p. 206, no. 86, ill., compares it to Picasso's image of the Minotaur as a symbol of "destructive power"; suggests Pollock was more interested in "the incongruous yet ecstatic union of beauty with primal energy".
Werner Haftmann. Painting in the Twentieth Century: A Pictorial Survey. New York, 1966, pl. 896.
Andrew Hudson. "Largest Pollock Retrospective Marked by Artist's Two Peaks." Washington Post (April 16, 1967), p. L7.
William S. Rubin. Dada and Surrealist Art. New York, 1968, ill. p. 447, fig. D–250.
Anthea Palmer. "International Expressionism at Marlborough–Gerson." Arts 42 (May 1968), ill. p. 43, [not in exhibition].
Lawrence Campbell. "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Gerontion." ART News 67 (November 1968), p. 39, ill (color).
Francis V. O'Connor. From El Greco to Pollock: Early and Late Works by European and American Artists. Ed. Gertrude Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art. 1968, pp. 160–61, no. 136, ill., asserts that this painting reflects the artist's "stylistic and psychic state" when he still depended on the control of symbolism; states that the painting's original title was "Moby Dick" and therefore one should not look for details relating to its current title in the composition; claims that the artist's evolution towards his mature style begins with this painting.
Barbara Rose. American Painting: The 20th Century. [Lausanne], , ill. p. 67 (color).
C.H. Waddington. Behind Appearance: A Study of the Relations Between Painting and the Natural Sciences in this Century. Cambridge, Mass., 1969, p. 141.
Bernice Rose. Jackson Pollock: Works on Paper. Exh. cat., Walker Art Center. New York, 1969, p. 106 n. 2.
Irving Sandler. The Triumph of American Painting: A History of Abstract Expressionism. New York, 1970, p. 108, claims that this painting resembles Masson's picture of the same name; relates that this painting was first called "Moby Dick".
C. L. Wysuph. Jackson Pollock: Psychoanalytic Drawings. New York, 1970, pp. 25, 28, quotes Lee Krasner Pollock's recollections of Sweeney's convincing Pollock to change in title from "Moby Dick" to "Pasiphae" demonstrates how little Pollock's titles mean to the actual work of art, adding that the artist's paintings revealed greater personal truths that would later inform his titles.
Alberto Busignani. Pollock. New York, 1971, pp. 25, 33, colorpl. 12.
Maurice Tuchman Los Angeles County Museum of Art. New York School, The First Generation: Paintings of the 1940s and 1950s. Rev. ed. (1st ed., 1965). Greenwich, Conn., 1971, p. 226, no. 82, ill. p. 116.
Judith Wolfe. "Jungian Aspects of Jackson Pollock's Imagery." Artforum 11 (November 1972), pp. 66, 68–69, fig. 9.
David Freke. "Jackson Pollock: A Symbolic Self–Portrait." Studio International 184 (December 1972), pp. 217, , 219, 221, ill. p. 220, claims that this painting, along the others painted in 1943, constitute an "exposition of the life, death and rebirth of the Jungian archetypal hero," thus forming a "symbolic self–portrait"; notes that Pollock did not alter the painting after renaming it; relates the original theme of "Moby Dick" to Jung's "monstrous fish"; interprets the change of title as evidence of Pollock's ability to apply Jungian ideas to different contexts.
B. H. Friedman. Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible. New York, 1972, pp. 94, 200, states that the ease with which Pollock changed this painting's title reflects how little he regarded the meaning of titles in comparison to the importance of the work itself.
Sam Hunter and John Jacobus. American Art of the Twentieth Century: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York, 1973, pp. 225, 254, fig. 405.
Barbara Rose. American Art Since 1900. Rev. and expanded ed., (1st ed., 1967). New York, 1975, p. 148, fig.6–19, describes the central totemic figures in this work flanking the central portion, which is organized like a long, rectangle frieze similar to that of "Mural," painted earlier for Peggy Guggenheim's apartment.
Frank O'Hara. Art Chronicles 1954–1966. New York, 1975, pp. 21–23, fig. 8, [reprints Ref. O'Hara 1959].
Elizabeth Lawrence Langhorne. "A Jungian Interpretation of Jackson Pollock's Art Through 1946." PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1977, pp. 173, 202–11, 216 nn. 63, 64, pp. 219, 221–22, 226, 230–31, 239, 249, 251, 254–25, 264, 270, 305, pl. 163, cites this work as an example of the 1943 resurgence of animal imagery prevalent in the artist's earlier drawings; calls it a "sequel" to "Guardians of the Secret" and "Wounded Animal", both also dated 1943; finds imagery of a sea–monster in this painting and related drawings and interprets the work's theme as 'union,' both sexual and between the conscious and the unconscious.
Charles F. Stuckey. "Another Side of Jackson Pollock." Art in America 65 (November–December 1977), p. 88, claims that this painting's original title, "Moby Dick," reflects Pollock's interest in giant marine life.
Italo Tomassoni. Pollock. New York, 1978, p. 22, colorpl. 19.
Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw. Jackson Pollock. Vol. 1, Paintings, 1930–1947. New Haven, 1978, p. 92, no. 101, ill.
Dawn Ades. Dada and Surrealism Reviewed. Exh. cat.London, 1978, p. 399, no. 15.42, notes that this painting is related to drawings Pollock made while undergoing Jungian analysis.
Anthony Everitt. Abstract Expressionism. Woodbury, 1978, p. 16.
David M. Quick. "Meaning in the Art of Barnett Newman and Three of His Contemporaries: A Study of Content in Abstract Expressionism." PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1978, p. 305–6.
William Rubin. "Pollock as Jungian Illustrator: The Limits of Psychological Criticism, Part II." Art in America 67 (December 1979), pp. 73–7, 90 n. 10, fig. 4, warns against citing his own misinterpretation of Pasiphae imagery in this work [Ref. Rubin 1959] before his knowledge of the original Moby Dick title; recounts that during a visit to Pollock's studio with Sweeney, Peggy Guggenheim "expressed some dislike" of the title, whereupon Sweeney suggested Pasiphae, prompting Pollock's response "'Who the hell is Pasiphae?'"; adds that Sweeney recalls the original title as "The White Whale" but Krasner is certain it was "Moby Dick".
Dore Ashton. "Jackson Pollock's Arabesque." Arts Magazine (March 1979), pp. 142–43, ill., compares it to Pollock's "Ocean Greyness" (1953; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York).
Bernice Rose. Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1980, p. 26 n. 29.
Charles F. Stuckey. "Bill de Kooning and Joe Christmas." Art in America 68 (March 1980), p. 67, uses this painting as an example of how a work's title may not have anything to do with its content.
Lisa M. Messinger. "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1981–1982. New York, , pp. 56–57, ill. (color).
Michael Brenson. "Met Museum Gets Pollock Works." New York Times (December 22, 1982), p. C15.
Richard Eder. "After a Strike, Paris Gets to See 63 Pollocks." New York Times (February 9, 1982), p. C8.
Grace Glueck. "Met Acquires Early Pollock." New York Times (January 13, 1982), p. C19, states that this painting was first given to Peggy Guggenheim as collateral for a $2,000 loan for the Pollocks' house and upon repaying the loan, Pollock gave the painting to his wife, Krasner; quotes Krasner as saying she wanted the Metropolitan Museum of Art to have an important early work and for "Pasiphaë" to stay in New York.
Flavio Caroli. Pollock et le cubisme. Exh. cat.Paris, 1982, p. 33, ill. pp. 122–123 (color), says that there are direct references to Picasso's "Tauromachies".
Georges Raillard. Devant Pollock. Exh. cat.Paris, 1982, pp. 36, 39–40, ill. p. 122–123, traces the evolution of the "Pasiphae" image, from Masson, to Ernst, to Pollock; says that when Clement Greenberg first saw this painting, he said "Eh bien! moi aussi je cherche Pasiphae, je ferai une Pasiphae".
E. A. Carmean, Jr. Jackson Pollock. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1982, p. 73, ill. pp. 122–23 (color).
Pierre Restany. Pollock ou la peinture en tant qu'objet. Exh. cat.1982, p. 78, ill. pp 122–23 (color).
Annette Cox. Art–As–Politics: The Abstract Expressionist Avant–Garde and Society. 2nd ed. [1st ed. 1977]. Ann Arbor, 1982, p. 43.
Elizabeth Frank. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1983, pp. 46–47, fig. 34 (color).
Harry F. Gaugh. Willem de Kooning. New York, 1983, p. 88.
Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 1983, p. 420, no. 21, ill. (color).
Charles W. Millard. "Jackson Pollock." Hudson Review 36 (Summer 1983), pp. 340–341, calls this painting the artist's first successful all–over composition.
Marisa Vescovo inJackson Pollock: Opere 1930–1956. Exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia. Venice, 1983, pp. 17–18.
William S. Lieberman inJackson Pollock: Opere 1930–1956. Exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia. Rome, 1983, p. 11.
Flavio Caroli inJackson Pollock: Opere 1930–1956. Exh. cat., Palazzo Venezia, Rome. Venice, 1983, p. 95.
Michael Brenson. "De Montebello Pursues a 'Universal Museum'." New York Times (January 1, 1983), p. 7.
Lowery Stokes Sims. The Figure in 20th Century American Art: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Jacksonville Art Museum. New York, 1984, p. 104, ill.
Kay Larson. "The Met's Modern Movement." New York Magazine (August 26, 1985), p. 100.
Rosalind E. Krauss. The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge, Mass., 1985, p. 232 n. 17, refutes E.A. Carmean's assertion that Pollock's black and white paintings derive from religious themes by citing this picture's influence on their compositions.
Sam Hunter and John Jacobus. Modern Art: Painting/Sculpture/Architecture. 2nd. ed. (1st ed. 1977). New York, 1985, p. 273, fig. 492, comments that this painting reflects the artist's interest in Jungian analysis, archetypes, and the collective unconscious; likens the "agitated" lines to Miro's works of 1924–26.
Yoshiaki Tōno. Pollock. Tokyo, 1985, p. 74, ill.
William S. Lieberman. 20th Century Art: Selections from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Vol. 1, Painting: 1905–1945. New York, 1986, pp. 6–7, 58–59, 63, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Eugene Victor Thaw. "The Abstract Expressionists." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 44 (Winter 1986–87), p. 13–14, 21, fig. 10 (color), calls it the most important early Abstract Expressionist work in the MMA collection.
Kay Larson. "The Met Goes Modern: Bill Lieberman's Brave New Wing." New York Magazine 19 (December 15, 1986), p. 46.
Michael Desmond. 20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Brisbane, Australian, 1986, p. 66–67, ill. (color), describes Pollock's combination of a strong structural foundation with automatism in this painting's composition.
Marcelin Pleynet. Les Etats–Unis de la peinture. Paris, 1986, p. 60.
Deborah Solomon. Jackson Pollock: A Biography. New York, 1987, pp. 138–39, retells the anecdote of Sweeney's retitling of this picture, omitting Guggenheim's presence; asserts that its title bears no relation to the subject matter.
Brian O'Doherty. American Masters: The Voice and the Myth. New York, 1988, p. 105, ill. p. 98 (color).
Ellen G. Landau. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1989, pp. 121–26, ill. pp. 122–23 (color), notes its similarities to "She–Wolf" (1943, Museum of Modern Art, New York); discounts the influence of Masson's earlier "Pasiphae" since Sweeney had to explain the myth to Pollock, and suggests that the Pasiphae notes in Pollock's archives were actually written by Sweeney; explores Jungian connections between Melville's archetypal hero and possible Moby Dick references in this work's imagery.
Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga. New York, 1989, pp. 457–58, 493–94, 513–14, 520–21, 588, 697, claim that neither its current title nor "Moby Dick" has any relation to the painting; describe it as being on the borderline between figuration and abstraction; assert that Pollock interrupted work on this painting to create a smaller one that collectors would be more likely to purchase from his first one-man show at Art of This Century, explaining why this picture was not in that show.
Elizabeth L. Langhorne. "Pollock, Picasso and the Primitive." Art History 12 (March 1989), p. 74, discusses the importance of bird imagery that first appeared in Pollock's work in 1941 and is also evident in this painting.
Roberta Smith. "Where to See Pollocks." New York Times (February 2, 1990), p. C28.
Timothy J. Clark. "Jackson Pollock's Abstraction." Reconstructing Modernism: Art in New York, Paris, and Montreal, 1945-1964. Ed. Serge Guilbaut. Cambridge, Mass., 1990, p. 186.
Lisa Mintz Messinger inJackson Pollock: Zeichnungen. Exh. cat., Württembergischer Kunstverein. Stuttgart, 1990, p. 64ill. p. 61 (color).
Ben Heller. Jackson Pollock: Black Enamel Paintings. Exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery. New York, 1990, pp. 14, 17.
David Anfam. Abstract Expressionism. New York, 1990, pp. 100–101.
Paul Scott Derrick. "The Art of Jackson Pollock: Man Restored to the Web." Atlantis (November 1991), pp. 22–23.
Stephen Polcari. Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience. Cambridge, 1991, p. xx.
Lisa Mintz Messinger. Abstract Expressionism, Works on Paper: Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta. New York, 1992, p. 90.
Lowery Stokes Sims inWifredo Lam and His Contemporaries 1938–1952. Exh. cat., Studio Museum in Harlem. New York, 1992, p. 74, fig. 1.
April Kingsley. The Turning Point: The Abstract Expressionists and the Transformation of American Art. New York, 1992, p. 340.
Michael Leja. Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s. New Haven, 1993, pp. 76, 160, 170, 287, 290, fig. 9, suggests that "the glimpses of violence and struggle" in this painting are a "representation of the proposal that the sources of modern evil and anxiety lie in unknown and uncontrollable elements in human nature and mind"; relates the merging of animal and human form to the male/female dichotomy; proposes that the more feminine "Pasiphae" was appealing to Pollock than the masculine "Moby Dick," noting that more of Pollock's works from the early 1940s have feminine titles.
Teruo Fujieda. Jackson Pollock. Tokyo, 1994, ill. p. 83, caption erroneously states that this painting is in the collection of The Pollock–Krasner Foundation.
Lisa Messinger. Abstract Expressionism: Works on Paper, Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, 1995, p. 90.
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met and the Modern with Richard Serra: One Provocateur Inspired by Another." New York Times (August 11, 1995), p. C26, quotes Serra's reference to this painting as a "watered–down Picasso," compared to the latter's "Girl Before a Mirror" (1932, Museum of Moden Art, New York), and calls it a clumsily drawn attempt to break from the European tradition.
Holland Cotter. "Prospecting In the Jumble Of Pollock's Earliest Work." New York Times (October 21, 1997), p. E3.
Nan Rosenthal. "The Pollock Sketchbooks: An Introduction." The Jackson Pollock Sketchbooks in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, pp. 16, 26, fig. 6, states that this painting "merges the influences of Cubism and Surrealism into highly personal hieroglyphics at nearly mural scale"; considers it a midpoint between the sketchbooks and "Autumn Rhythm" (MMA 57.92).
Michael Kimmelman. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere. New York, 1998, pp. 52–54, ill.
T. J. Clark. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism. New Haven, 1999, pp. 333, 359–60, notes that Pollock misspelled this work's title as "Pacify" in a 1947 resumé he wrote; calls this work a visual black comedy.
Jeremy Lewison. Interpreting Pollock. London, 1999, pp. 22, 26, fig. 20 (color), asserts that this painting was carefully conceived and not a spontaneous unconscious outpouring as much literature suggests; finds a strong resemblance to Picasso's "L'Aubade" (1942) which depicts a reclining nude serenaded by a male guitarist, and considers it likely that Pollock knew of Picasso's composition; cites this painting's title change as further evidence that associations with Minotaur myth are purely conjectural.
Pepe Karmel. "A Sum of Destructions." Jackson Pollock: New Approaches. Ed. Kirk Varnedoe. New York, 1999, p. 80.
Carol C. Mancusi–Ungaro. "Jackson Pollock: Response as Dialogue." Jackson Pollock: New Approaches. Ed. Kirk Varnedoe and Pepe Karmel. New York, 1999, p. 119, states that drips in the painting's bottom–right quadrant confirm that it was painted upright.
Michael Leja. "Pollock Reframed and Refigured." Tate no. 17 (Spring 1999), p. 36.
Jonathan Fineberg. Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being. New York, 2000, p. 90.
Sue Taylor. "The Artist and the Analyst: Jackson Pollock's 'Stenographic Figure'." American Art 17 (Autumn 2003), p. 62, examines Pollock's work through the lens of his Jungian analysis, specifically calling this work an exploration of "the struggle with lower instincts".
Leonhard Emmerling. Jackson Pollock, 1912–1956. Cologne, 2003, pp. 39–42.
Alexander B. Herman and John Paoletti. "Re–Reading Jackson Pollock's 'She–Wolf'." Artibus et Historiae 25, no. 50 (2004), pp. 148, 153 n. 18, note that Pollock's repeated use of the box as a framing device in his early work, which creates the effect of a painting within a painting, occurs in this picture's use of an oval surrounding the central figure.
Jed Perl. New Art City. New York, 2005, pp. 170, 190, ill., states that this painting's original title "Moby Dick" reflects an interest in Melville's writings among New York's avant–garde artists during the 1940s.
Evan R. Firestone. "Another Visual Source for Jackson Pollock's Guardian Figures." Notes in the History of Art 25 (Spring 2006), pp. 40, 46, fig. 2, says that this picture was originally titled "Moby Dick"; states that whether this painting depicts the white whale or the bull from the myth does not matter because according to Jungian iconography, all great mythological animals represent the unconscious; claims that the "guardian figures" that flank the animal held within the center rectangle represent how the unconscious mind is inaccessible; relates the figures in this painting to those on a ceramic dish the artist painted four years earlier, which he in turn relates to figures from Orozoco's "Epic of American Civilization" murals at Dartmouth College (1932–34).
Gail Levin. Lee Krasner: A Biography. New York, 2011, p. 212, ill. unpaginated (color installation photo of Exh. New York 1967).
Evelyn Toynton. Jackson Pollock. New Haven, 2012, p. 34.
Sergio Risaliti inJackson Pollock: The Figure of the Fury. Ed. Sergio Risaliti with Francesca Campana Comparini. Exh. cat., Palazzo Vecchio. Florence, 2014, ill. p. 44.
Helen A. Harrison. Jackson Pollock. London, 2014, p. 41, fig. 34 (color).
David Anfam. Jackson Pollock's 'Mural': Energy Made Visible. Exh. cat., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. New York, 2015, pp. 85, 143, no. 70, ill. p. 86 (color).