Guggenheim to Present Exhibition of Jackson Pollock Works on Paper

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Highly Focused Show Reveals Little-Known Aspect of the Artist’s Work

No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York City
May 26–September 29, 2006
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Thursday, May 25, 2006, 10am–12pm

(NEW YORK, NY—April 10, 2006) The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper, an exhibition of approximately 65 works drawn from private and public collections in the United States from May 26 through September 29, 2006. The exhibition will examine the artist’s practice as a draftsman by considering his works on paper as an essential component in his transformation of the traditional figurative line into a non-figurative graphic expression. The exhibition, organized by Susan Davidson, Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, was previously shown at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (June 4–September 18, 2005) and Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin (January 29–April 10, 2005).

This exhibition is sponsored by Lehman Brothers and Neuberger Berman, A Lehman Brothers Company.

Additional support is provided by Altria Group, Inc.

This exhibition is further made possible by The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc.

The Leadership Committee for No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper is gratefully acknowledged.

During his brief and brilliant career, Pollock produced approximately seven hundred works on paper in a variety of traditional drawing mediums—pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, and collage, as well as, toward the end of his life, poured enamel. At the time of his first one-person exhibition, in the Daylight Gallery of Peggy Guggenheim's historic New York gallery Art of This Century, in November 1943, the artist chose to exhibit both paintings and drawings. This was in part for practical reasons, as smaller works sold more easily. However, the primary motivation was Pollock’s conviction that his paintings on canvas and his works on paper deserved equal attention as expressions of his artistic aims.

According to Curator Susan Davidson, “‘No limits, just edges’—Pollock’s own words—aptly defines this collection of bold and colorful paintings on paper. The phrase ‘drawing into painting’ has often been used to characterize Pollock’s small-scale endeavors, and the works are referred to as paintings on paper to emphasize that Pollock’s working method did not necessarily vary from drawing to painting. This show is not about traditional drawing per se. The line–whether pencil, ink, or enamel paint—vigorously extends beyond the support’s edge, offering the viewer a glimpse into a larger realm. By bringing together nearly 70 of the approximately 700 extant works on paper, No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper provides a unique opportunity to celebrate Pollock’s gesture on an intimate scale.”

The stylistic development of Pollock’s drawings mirrors that of his paintings, and four loosely grouped categories can be defined. The first, from circa 1935 to circa 1941, is characterized by figuration of both human and imaginary beings. It includes three sketchbooks that surfaced after his death and a group of unbound drawings that are most often connected to the psychoanalytical treatment the artist underwent in an attempt to deal with his alcoholism. The second stylistic grouping, a body of fully mature works dating from circa 1942 through 1947 and corresponding approximately to Pollock's association with Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century, is distinguished by an idiosyncratic iconography he developed in part as a response to Surrealist influences. With mythical subject matter, calligraphic markings, and a vibrant and distinctive color palette, Pollock produced emotionally charged paintings and works on paper that retain figurative subject matter yet emphasize abstract qualities.

The third stylistic set comprises Pollock's breakthrough works, commonly perceived as pure abstraction and made over the course of an explosive and intense period between late 1947 and 1950. Not only did Pollock move away from a reliance on traditional figuration and subject matter, he also broke free from the standard use of drawing and painting implements, abandoning their direct contact with the surface. Instead, he worked from distances above the picture plane, using dripping, pouring, and splattering techniques—methods that were not necessarily Pollock's invention alone but that he pushed to new extremes.

The fourth and final group represents a refinement of Pollock’s pouring techniques. The drawings are stylistically related to his works on canvas of the time, but whereas earlier drawings had a clear connection to larger canvases, these later drawings specifically exploit the qualities of working with fluid mediums on porous paper. Like the canvas paintings of 1950–52, these drawings exhibit a more open, light ground scattered with lyrical compositions of calligraphic forms. The last four years of Pollock's life—he died tragically in an automobile accident on August 11, 1956—are almost devoid of drawings; correspondingly, his output of paintings also diminished.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by David Anfam, Susan Davidson, and Margaret Holben Ellis, which is available for $40.

April 10, 2006


Betsy Ennis / Leily Soleimani
Guggenheim Public Affairs
(212) 423-3840

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