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A monthly online presentation of secondary market works

Jackson Pollock

Untitled

c.1947

Jackson Pollock

Untitled, c.1947

Price upon request

Orchestrating an active union of calligraphic brushwork, graphite mark-making and spattered eruptions of colour, Jackson Pollock’s Untitled (c.1947) synthesises the gestural vigour for which the artist became renowned with his lesser-known mastery of draughtsmanship. Created during the critical years of 1946 and 1947, closely preceding Pollock’s signature ‘pouring’ technique, Untitled marks a pivotal moment in the artist’s practice, when he radically coalesced the mediums of painting and drawing. A layered ensemble of spontaneous line, Untitled claims a distinguished exhibition history. Believed to have been featured in Pollock’s third solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim’s influential gallery, Art of This Century, in 1946, it was later showcased alongside Pollock’s monumental ‘drip paintings’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1967 and once more in 1980. In 2019, an earlier drawing dated 1944, also exhibited at MoMA, was sold for over 4.2 million dollars at Sotheby’s New York.

‘Jackson Pollock’, installation view, MoMA, New York, 5 April – 4 June 1967
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

‘Jackson Pollock’, installation view, MoMA, New York, 5 April – 4 June 1967
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

‘Passage yields to passage in an enriched virtuoso vocabulary of spatters, drips, swirls, scumbles, gestures, arabesques, filled-in shapes, and inscribed numbers, hieroglyphics of painterly calligraphy that, for all its energy, never crowds or squeezes the picture.’

— Elizabeth Frank, Jackson Pollock, Abbeville Press, New York, 1983, p.41

Explore Jackson Pollock's Untitled, c.1947, with Associate Director Louisa Sprinz

Listen: Writer and Curator Dr. David Anfam

discusses Untitled (c.1947)
(duration 7:25)

Few of Pollock’s works on paper bear inscriptions of date, including Untitled, which the artist’s catalogue raisonné attributes to circa 1947, placing the work within a limited grouping of drawings associated with this transitional stylistic period. Pollock’s early drawings produced in the 1930s express his admiration for the Old Masters, including El Greco, through his study of composition, form and shadow. His exploration of line soon developed into sketched and rudimentary figurations that readily evoke the influence of his Surrealist forebears, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. Of Pollock’s works on paper dated to 1946–47, Untitled is singled out in the catalogue as the drawing that comes closest to his subsequent breakthrough into ‘poured’ painting. Serving as a prelude to the artist’s large-scale ‘allover’ canvases, Untitled demonstrates Pollock’s reinvention of pictorial space on an intimate scale, liberating the line to attain an autonomy and abstraction unbound by traditional motives of delineation.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (page from a lost sketchbook), c.1939–42, brush and black ink on paper
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

El Greco, The Vision of Saint John, c.1608 –14
Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

‘I'm very representational some of the time, [...] and a little all of the time. But when you're painting out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge.’

— Jackson Pollock, interview with Selden Rodman, 1956, quoted in No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock, Paintings on Paper , exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2005, p.14

Jackson Pollock, Untitled, c.1948–49, dripped ink and enamel on paper
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

For Pollock, drawing was equal to painting – relative but never subordinate to it. Approaching each medium directly with no preliminary studies, the artist considered both as processes through which to express the unconscious. In his first solo exhibition at Art of This Century in 1943, Pollock advocated for the joint presentation of his drawings and paintings. His third exhibition with the gallery in April 1946 yielded a substantial sale of his artworks, including the acquisition of Untitled by the prominent writer and art collector Selden Rodman, as posited by curator and art historian Susan Davidson. With the influential tastemaker Peggy Guggenheim as his patron – having commissioned him to create a mural for her New York apartment in 1943 – Pollock was thrust into the spotlight, rapidly emerging as a preeminent figure of the insurgent American vanguard, later known as the Abstract Expressionists.

Jackson Pollock with Mural (1943) at Vogue Magazine Studios, New York, 1947 
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Photo: Herbert Matter. Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

Detail of Untitled, c.1947

‘There is no inside or outside to Pollock's line, or to the space through which it moves.’

— Michael Fried, Three American Painters (1965), quoted in Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1980, p.19

Untitled, c.1947, is seen upper right on the facing wall, installed as part of the exhibition ‘Jackson Pollock: Drawing into Painting’, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 4 February – 16 March 1980
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

A constellation of varied mark-making, Untitled represents a pivotal turning point in Pollock’s stylistic and technical development. In MoMA’s cataloguing notes, the work is categorised as ‘brush and spatter’, indicating the artist’s ongoing use of the brush as the principal tool for applying paint. Beyond 1947, however, cataloguing of the ‘brush’ abruptly ceases, superseded by Pollock’s signature drip technique, for which no instrument is cited. Situated on the cusp of this radical shift, Untitled embodies stylistic tensions, elusively referencing the figurative image through his calligraphic forms while anticipating his subsequent embrace of extreme abstraction, thus occupying a unique condition unparalleled in Pollock’s preceding or subsequent body of work.


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Jackson Pollock in his studio, East Hampton, New York, 1947

Jackson Pollock in his studio, East Hampton, New York, 1947
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024. Photo: Herbert Matter. Image © The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florence

White Cube expresses great thanks to curator and art historian Susan Davidson for her generous support with research, especially on her insights into Pollock’s 1946 exhibition at Art of This Century. Susan Davidson curated the exhibition ‘No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper’ held at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2005.

Jackson Pollock - Untitled - 5
Unless otherwise stated, artworks © The Pollock-Krasner Foundation ARS, NY and DACS, London 2024

White Cube’s original gallery opened in 1993, in the heart of central London at 44 Duke street, St James’s. At just under sixteen metres squared, its proportions encouraged an intimate, focused encounter with a single important work of art or body of work. It is this experience that informs the presentations for the salon programme.

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