National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist) Jackson Pollock (artist)
American, 1912 - 1956
Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), 1950
oil, enamel, and aluminum on canvas
overall: 221 x 299.7 cm (87 x 118 in.) framed: 223.5 x 302.3 x 3.8 cm (88 x 119 x 1 1/2 in.)
Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund
On View
From the Tour: Selections from the Modern and Contemporary Collections
Object 3 of 8

In 1947 Jackson Pollock introduced a radically innovative method of painting in which he poured paint directly onto unprimed canvas that he tacked to the studio floor. Deploying sticks or hardened brushes, Pollock circled around the canvas, flinging, dripping, and splashing skeins of paint onto its surface, layer upon layer, until a dense web of color was formed. Although his process, which was filmed in 1950 by the photographer Hans Namuth, was spontaneous and intuitive, Pollock exercised remarkable control over it and insisted, "there is no accident."

Number 1 (Lavender Mist), one of Pollock's most important "drip" paintings, attests to the artist's pure virtuosity of paint handling. One can trace his rhythmic movements in the long arcs, staccato dribbles, or coagulated pools of color that accrue into a rich, shimmering interlace. With only a few hues he achieved a soft tonal effect, not by the actual use of lavender but with aluminum and salmon-colored paint. The weave of long black and white strokes implies an inherent linear structure, but the "allover" composition exhibits an even density throughout, with no discernible focal points. Pollock, who spoke of being "in" his paintings, left very literal traces of his presence in the multiple handprints at the upper edges of the canvas.

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