An important example of a Jackson Pollock drip painting, Number 31, 1949is expected to achieve more than US$45 million at Christie’s May sale of 20th-century art in New York.
The work, measuring 31 by 22.5 inches, deploys a palette of moss-green, green-blue, rust-red, and bright yellow on paper mounted on Masonite boards.
Signed and dated 1949, the painting was included in the 1967 Pollock retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the 1998 retrospective at MoMA and the Tate Modern in London, according to Christie’s.
Pollock focused on Surrealist and abstract expressionist art during the early years of his career. But in 1947, he began to develop his signature “drip style,” using sticks, trowels, or knives to drip or splatter paint, as well as pouring paint directly from the can, onto raw canvases.
“With his revolutionary new technique, Pollock effectively upgraded the existing framework of traditional painting practices,” Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of 20th- and 21st-century art, said in a news release Tuesday. “True drip paintings were—and still are—the ultimate in mid-century American avant-garde, and are rare to come across in the secondary market.”
Number 31, 1949 is being sold by an anonymous private collector, who has held the painting for more than two decades, Christie’s said. It will be exhibited at the auction house’s Los Angeles galleries from April 19-22 before returning to New York ahead of the sale on May 12.
Christie’s evening auction of 20th-century art will also feature masterpieces from Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, and Andy Warhol. de Kooning’s Untitled XXI, 1977 has an estimate above US$20 million; Warhol’s Skull carries an estimate between US$25 million and US$35 million; Picasso’s first cubist sculpture, Tete de femme (Fernande)offered from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is expected to realize more than US$30 million.
Pollock’s current auction record is US$61.2 million, just set in November by Number 17, 1951 at Sotheby’s New York. That painting was offered from the collection of real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his ex-wife, Linda.
Previously, Pollock’s Number 191948, sold for US$58.4 million in 2013 at Christie’s New York.