This painting is an acknowledged masterpiece from the artist's most successful period of work. Having moved from Manhattan to eastern Long Island, Pollock returned in 1947 to drip and pour techniques that he may have learned ten years earlier from David Alfaro Siquieros. The resulting "allover" paintings, made from 1947 to 1950, constitute his greatest achievement.
Like almost all his New York colleagues, Pollock began his abstractions with drawings of figures, which were subsequently abstracted or obliterated. This canvas shows on its verso traces of drawing in black and yellow that are no longer visible on the surface, having been obscured by a layer of aluminum, gray, and olive-green paint enlivened with blue, pink, and yellow. Pollock finished the painting with new drawing in white and black, which he knitted to the middle layer by reintroducing some gray and white paint over the final layers of black.
The dominant critic of the day, Clement Greenberg, called such works "polyphonic." "Knit together of a multiplicity of identical or similar elements," he wrote, this art "repeats itself without strong variation from one end of the canvas to the other, and dispenses, apparently, with beginning, middle, and ending."
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Jackson Pollock 50
[Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, 1950–52]; [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1953; sold on March 16, 1953 to Steinberg]; Muriel Kallis Steinberg, Chicago (1953–2006; her gift to MMA)
New York. Betty Parsons Gallery. "Jackson Pollock," November 28–December 16, 1950, no catalogue.
Arts Club of Chicago. "Ben Shahn, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock," October 2–27, 1951, no. 38.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "15 Americans," April 9–July 27, 1952, unnumbered cat. (p. 46; lent by Betty Parsons Gallery).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection," May 21–September 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (p. 63).
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Jackson Pollock," November 1, 1998–February 2, 1999, no. 177.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 17, 2007–February 3, 2008, extended to March 2, 2008, no. 32.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009, online catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016.
"American Fashion: The New Soft Look." Vogue (March 1, 1951), ill. p. 157 (Cecil Beaton photo, Exh. New York 1950).
Parker Tyler. "Hopper/Pollock." Art News Annual 26 (1957), p. 96, ill. p. 107.
Frank O'Hara. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1959, p. 26, pl. 57.
Bryan Robertson. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1960, pp. 19, 96, colorpl. 39, relates the lighter color palette of this work to Pollock's collages of thin, tinted papers.
Eleanor Page. "She Lives in an Art Museum." Chicago Tribune (September 13, 1964), sec. 5, p. 3, ill.
Herbert Read, ed. Encyclopaedia of the Arts. New York, 1966, ill. p. 722.
Francis V. O'Connor. Jackson Pollock. New York, 1967, pp. 56, 61, 65.
Alberto Busignani. Jackson Pollock. Florence, 1970, p. 89, pl. 34.
Alberto Busignani. Pollock. New York, 1971, colorpl. 34.
Barbara Rose. "Pollock's Studio: Interview with Lee Krasner." Pollock Painting. Ed. Barbara Rose. New York, 1978, unpaginated.
Italo Tomassoni. Pollock. New York, 1978, p. 36, ill. pp. 60–61.
Monica Meenan. "The Vigorous Collectors." Town and Country 132 (September 1978), p. 148, ill.
Hans Namuth. L'Atelier de Jackson Pollock. Ed. Rosalind E. Krauss and Francis V. O'Connor. Paris, 1978, ill. p. 89 (installation photo, Exh. New York 1950).
Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, ed. Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works. Vol. 2, Paintings, 1948–1955. New Haven, 1978, pp. 82–83, no. 260, ill.
Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, ed. Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works. Vol. 4, Other Works, 1930–1956. New Haven, 1978, p. 254, fig. 58, (installation photo of New York 1950).
Judith Goldman. "Collecting in Chicago: 'Love Affairs with Art'." Art News 78 (February 1979), p. 49.
Teruo Fujieda. Jackson Pollock. Tokyo, 1979, ill.
Alice Hess. "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary." Saturday Review 7 (October 1980), pp. 72, 75, ill. p. 74.
Grace Glueck. "Met Is Given a $12 Million Art Collection." New York Times (December 10, 1980), p. B7.
"Chicagoan Gives Art to N. Y. Museum." Chicago Sun-Times (December 11, 1980), p. 8.
Jerry Crimmins. "Her Art, and Heart, Now New York's." Chicago Tribune (December 11, 1980).
"Art: Muriel's $12 MillionSublimation." Time (December 22, 1980), p. 69, ill.
Hilton Kramer. "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century." New York Times (May 22, 1981), pp. C1, C21.
Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "Une Donation bienvenue." Connaissance des arts no. 354 (August 1981), ill. p. 21.
Lisa M. Messinger in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1980–1981. New York, 1981, p. 62, ill.
M. W. Newman. "Chicago." Franklin Mint Almanac 12 (July–August 1981), ill. p. 20 (color, installation photo).
Grace Glueck. "Is Chicago Losing Out in the Art War?" New York Times (August 2, 1981), sec. 2, p. 1.
Henry Hanson. "Upfront: East Coast Woos Chicago Collectors." Chicago Magazine (January 1981), p. 14, ill.
"Newman at the Met." Connaissance des arts no. 17 (June 1981), p. 28, ill.
Judith Goldman. "Collecting: Vicarious Pleasures of a Daring Painter-Turned-Collector." Vogue (August 1981), ill. p. 50.
Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "The Newman Bequest." Connaissance des arts no. 19 (August 1981), pp.16–17, ill. (color), incorrectly captions it "Mark Rothko, 'Number one, 1953'".
Michael Brenson. "Met Museum Gets Pollock Works." New York Times (December 22, 1982), p. C15.
Grace Glueck. "Met Acquires Early Pollock." New York Times (January 13, 1982), p. C19.
Eugene Victor Thaw. "The Abstract Expressionists." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 44 (Winter 1986–87), p. 39, fig. 18 (color) and ill. p. 24 (color detail).
William Agee. "Muriel Kallis Newman–Life Among the Moderns." Architectural Digest (December 1986), p. 70, ill.
Matthew L. Rohn. Visual Dynamics in Jackson Pollock's Abstractions. Ann Arbor, 1987, p. 16.
Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga. New York, 1989, p. 613.
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. 173, ill. p. 174 (partly visible, see Ref. Vogue 1951).
Ben Heller. Jackson Pollock: Black Enamel Paintings. Exh. cat., Gagosian Gallery. New York, 1990, p. 20.
Nan Rosenthal. "The Pollock Sketchbooks: An Introduction." The Jackson Pollock Sketchbooks in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1997, p. 17, fig. 8.
James Coddington. "No Chaos Damn It." Jackson Pollock: New Approaches. Ed. Kirk Varnedoe and Pepe Karmel. New York, 1999, pp. 110, 112, pl. 19 (detail).
T. J. Clark. "Pollock's Smallness." Jackson Pollock: New Approaches. Ed. Kirk Varnedoe and Pepe Karmel. New York, 1999, p. 26.
Victoria Newhouse. Art and the Power of Placement. New York, 2005, p. 170, fig. 164.
Nan Rosenthal in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2005–2006." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 64 (Fall 2006), pp. 60–61, ill.
Pepe Karmel inAbstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 98–103, no. 32, ill. (color).
Carol Vogel. "Inside Art: A 'Why Wait?' Exhibition." New York Times (February 9, 2007), p. E32, ill.
Änne Söll. "Pollock in 'Vogue': American Fashion and Avant–garde Art in Cecil Beaton's 1951 Photographs." Fashion Theory 13, no. 1 (2009), p. 36.
Calvin Tomkins. "Onward and Upward with the Arts: The Met and the Now." New Yorker (January 25, 2016), p. 33.