Saturday, April 20, 2013

A twentieth century art masterpiece in focus

Christie’s will be presenting a 20th Century masterpiece by artist Jackson Pollock on 15 May 2013 as one of the major highlights of its upcoming spring Contemporary Art Evening Auction event. ‘Number 19’ was done during the most important phase (1947-1950) of his career.

The year 1948 marked the moment that Pollock gained complete mastery over the drip technique and the beginning of its expansion into paintings that were less compositions on a theme than fields of painterly activity and self-expression. 

‘Number 19’ is one of the great drip paintings Jackson Pollock did in a legendary three-year burst of creativity between 1947 and 1950 that completely revolutionized American painting and reshaped the history of twentieth century art. Displaying a fascinatingly intricate, dense, dynamic and animated abstract surface - one that reveals the artist’s complete mastery of his radical new medium of pouring and dripping enamel paint onto an unprimed ground - the painting is one of the most engaging and successfully resolved of all these much-celebrated works. Employing black, and white plus silver, accented by red and green vibrant notes, he made a shimmering surface, celebrating his own iconic drip style.

Having developed his technique in the first great drip paintings of 1947, Pollock was also, by 1948, able to control to a great extent the way in which his thinned enamel paint fell and formed on the surfaces below it.  Partially the product of a dancing performance, working on the painting from all sides, Pollock, as many onlookers to his working method at this time observed, seemed to create these works by drawing and gesturing in the space above them.

As the gossamer-like lines of different color and the fascinating depth and space they create in ‘Number 19’, Pollock, in his finest creations, displayed an extraordinary command over both his medium and the complexity of the image generated. Chairman-International Head (Post-War and Contemporary Art), Brett Gorvy, mentions, “If Pollock’s drip paintings are among the best-known paintings of the 20th century, the sale of Number 19 this spring in New York is an exceptional and unique opportunity for collectors and institutions to acquire this iconic masterpiece. Innumerable layers of delicate dripped paint reveal the captivating circular movement of Pollock’s hand. Number 19 is one of those paintings you get lost in.”

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