November 3, 2006

Number 5

Filed under: art — ted @ 3:02 pm

According to both the New York Times and the Guardian, Jackson Pollock’s “No. 5, 1948” is now the world’s most valuable painting, having been sold by David Geffen, via Sotheby’s, for “about $140 million.”

The Pollock work, Number 5, 1948, is 1.2 by 2.4 metres (4 ft by 8ft), and is one of his first drip paintings. He had begun to experiment with the technique the previous year, placing the surfaces of the paintings on the floor and manipulating colours on to them by swaying and swinging his body above them.

In the confined space of his East Hamptons studio in Long Island, Pollock used the drip painting method as a way of touching base with his subconscious in the spirit of what became known as abstract expressionism. In 1956 Time Magazine dubbed him Jack the Dripper – a name that has stuck at a popular level but which art experts disdain as vulgar.

By 1948 the artist had begun to compose works that dispensed entirely with the brush and relied completely on pouring the enamel paints on to the surface. He used a variety of backgrounds, from canvas to paper with a gesso primer to this work’s engineered wood surface known as fibreboard.

“1948 was his miracle year. It was the year in which he really got into his stride with drip painting,” said Jeremy Lewison, the former director of collections at the Tate who has written a book on Pollock and is now an art consultant.

It matters very little what I think, but I’m pleased: Pollock is an American, and he’s certainly better than Klimt…


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