Pollock

This New York Exhibition Brings Together Two Rare Complete Sets of Prints By Jackson Pollock


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What You Need to Know: The new exhibition “Jackson Pollock: The Experimental Works on Paper” at Barbara Mathes Gallery in New York showcases Pollock’s little-known engravings and silkscreens from the 1940s and ‘50s. Pollock was first exposed to printmaking in the 1930s through his work in the Works Progress Administration, but his first experiments with engraving came in the mid-1940s with a series he produced at Atelier 17, a celebrated New York print studio that had relocated from Paris during World War II. On view here a set of those 1944 prints (available as a group) that show the influence of Surrealism on Pollock as he vacillated between abstraction and figuration. These early works are showcased by a later series of silkscreens (also available as a group) from the early 1950s produced with the help of his brother, Sanford McCoy, himself an esteemed printmaker. The prints were based on six of Pollock’s “black paintings,” made from 1951 to 1953, which largely abandoned color and the allover compositions of his drip paintings. 

Why We Like It: Though Pollock’s abstract paintings are his most famous works, these prints showcase Pollock’s lasting interest in figuration, visible in his early works of the 1940s and reemerging in his prints of the 1950s. Rather than the spontaneity of his drip painting, these prints speak to his interest in rhythmic, thought-through compositions and calligraphic mark-making. The set of prints from the 1950s also offers a rare collaboration between Pollock and McCoy, who together designed these prints as a suite. The complete portfolio presented here is a rare opportunity to see the works as the artists intended. What’s more, Pollock gifted this complete set to his brother, making these works particularly meaningful.

What the Gallery Says: “When seen side-by-side, these rare engravings and silkscreens are an exciting look at the development of Pollock’s style from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s. Even though they were made over half a century ago, the works feel contemporary and fresh,” said Barbara Mathes, founder of the gallery.

Jackson Pollock
Silkscreens (Set of 6) (1951)
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Jackson Pollock, Silkscreens (Set of 6) (1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Silkscreens (Set of 6) (1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Silkscreen (Set of 6: 3 of 6) (1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Silkscreen (Set of 6: 3 of 6) (1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Silkscreen (Set of 6: 5 of 6) ( 1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Silkscreen (Set of 6: 5 of 6) ( 1951). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

 

Jackson Pollock
Untitled (Set of 6) (1944–1945)
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Jackson Pollock, Untitled (Set of 6) (1944–1945). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (Set of 6) (1944–1945). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (ca. 1944-45). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (ca. 1944-45). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (ca. 1944). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

Jackson Pollock, Untitled (ca. 1944). Courtesy of Barbara Mathes Gallery.

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The Everson Museum Sold a $13 Million Jackson Pollock to Diversity Its Collection. Here’s What It Has Bought So Far


The Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, which last year controversially sold off a prized Jackson Pollock drip painting to shore up funds to diversify its holdings, has announced the first new slate of artworks to enter its collection.

Among the works are objects by the ceramicist Sharif Bey, the multimedia artist Ellen Blalock, and the painters Dawn Williams Boyd and Ellen Lesperance.

“The Everson’s collection has been steadily evolving in recent years, and this new group of purchases—the first of many more to come—signals an institutional commitment to building a collection that not only reflects the rich diversity of our community, but embodies the potential for exploring new and multiple narratives within the trajectory of art past, present, and future,” Elizabeth Dunbar, the museum’s director, said in a statement.

“These works, in particular, speak directly to some of the most pressing issues of our time, including the perpetuation of racist ideologies and violence against people of color, the global impact of climate change, and systemic inequities related to race and gender, among others,” she added.

Jackson Pollock, Red Composition (1946). Image courtesy Christie's.

Jackson Pollock, Red Composition (1946). Image courtesy Christie’s.

The decision to sell Pollock’s Red Composition (1946)—one of his earliest drip works, and a painting that had been part of the museum’s collection for almost three decades—was not without critics.

In a scathing article, the art critic Christopher Knight described the sale as “inexcusable,” arguing that the museum was “betraying its legacy” by “privatizing” a remarkable and historic painting. The work was donated to the museum in 1991 by Dorothy and Marshall Reisman; it was previously owned by Peggy Guggenheim.

But museum officials defended the decision. In an op-ed published last year by the Art Newspaper, Jessica Arb Danial, the president of the museum’s board of trustees, said the sale would “enable the Everson to significantly intensify our strategic efforts, particularly during this critical time in our nation’s history.”

She added that those bent on “shaming” the museum were “echoing decades of status quo art history textbook and gallery etiquette, rather than the realities we are living today.”

The Pollock painting sold at Christie’s New York in October for $13 million, against an estimate of $12 to $18 million.

See images of the recent acquisitions below.

Ellen Lesperance, Black Gloves, Gods' Eyes (2020). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Ellen Lesperance, Black Gloves, Gods’ Eyes (2020). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Ellen Blalock, Bang Bang, You Dead! (from the series "Not Crazy"), (2018). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Ellen Blalock, Bang Bang, You Dead! (from the series “Not Crazy”), (2018). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Dawn Williams Boyd, Waiting for Medgar, Jackson, MS, 1963 (2004). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Dawn Williams Boyd, Waiting for Medgar, Jackson, MS, 1963 (2004). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Courtney Leonard, Breach #2 (2016). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Ellen Blalock, Mary (from the series The Family Album: The Quilt Series), (2000). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Ellen Blalock, Mary (from the series “The Family Album: The Quilt Series”) (2000). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Susan Frackelton, Five-Handled Vase with Garlands (1901). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

Susan Frackelton, Five-Handled Vase with Garlands (1901). Courtesy of the Everson Museum of Art.

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