Rare Jackson Pollock Drip Painting from 1949 at auction


One of American artist Jackson Pollock’s “drip” paintings is set to become one of Pollock’s most expensive works, after returning to auction next month for the first time in decades.


“Number 31” is expected to fetch more than $45 million at Christie’s 20th Century auction on May 12 after sitting in the same private collection for more than 20 years, according to the auction house.

The painting was last sold at auction in 1988 for $3.5 million, or $8.5 million today, according to Artnet.

“Number 31” has appeared in major Pollock exhibitions, including the Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York in 1967 and a 1998 retrospective which ran at both MoMA and Tate Modern in London. .

Pollock painted “Number 31” in 1949, the same year his artistic career took off after mastering the “drip painting” process, in which he poured paint directly from a can onto a laid canvas. horizontally on the ground, sometimes with a stick. to push and mix the pigments.

In August of that year, Pollock appeared in a four-page spread in Life magazine that suggested he might be the nation’s “greatest living painter”, and by the end of 1949 his paintings had been purchased by five major museums and 40 prominent private collectors, according to Christie’s.

Large number

$61.2 million. This is the auction record for a painting by Jackson Pollock, set last year when his “Number 17, 1951” sold at the Macklowe Collection auction. The winning bid was more than double Sotheby’s estimate for the painting. Pollock’s paintings are known to sell even more in the private market: In 2016, billionaire Citadel founder Ken Griffin purchased a 1949 drip painting from fellow billionaire and DreamWorks founder David Geffen for $200 million, according to the New York Times.

Key Context

“Number 31” will be auctioned alongside other top works and collections in May, as the art world continues to rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the market in 2020. A portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol could fetch more than $200 million, while collections from wealthy patrons like the Macklowes and Anne H. Bass will help boost auction house sales.

Further reading

Andy Warhol’s portrayal of Marilyn Monroe could fetch a record $200 million (Forbes)

The $250 million collection of paintings and statues by arts philanthropist Anne Bass is up for auction (Forbes)

A rarely seen portrait of Pablo Picasso’s muse makes its auction debut (Forbes)

The art market surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021 with $65 billion in sales, according to a report (Forbes)

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