This Jackson Pollock painting could fetch $45 million at auction

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 11:59 PM MYT

NEW YORK, April 20 — Jackson Pollock’s explosive paintings have long been sought after by art collectors. This trend has only been accentuated in recent years, as evidenced by the arrival on the market of Number 31. This painting will be auctioned in May at Christie’s.

Number 31 was created in 1949, a few years after Jackson Pollock started action painting. At the time, he no longer used brushes to make these paintings, but instead sprayed the paint randomly over large areas in a technique known as drip painting. Jackson Pollock only created 13 of these works on paper in 1949, and only eight of them featured the shiny metallic paint used in Number 31.

“With his revolutionary new technique, Pollock effectively upended the existing framework of traditional painting practices. True drip paintings were – and still are – the ultimate in mid-century American avant-garde and are rare in the secondary market,” said Alex Rotter, president of Christie’s Art of the 20th and 21st centuries. “Number 31 is a superb example. It’s a fantastic and frenetic combination of rich hues, straight from the paint can. It’s a brilliant display of Pollock’s rigor and effusion.

The auction house estimates that Number 31 could fetch more than US$45 million (RM192 million) when the painting goes under the hammer on May 12 at its upcoming New York Evening Sale of 20th Century Art. It could become one of Jackson Pollock’s most expensive paintings, having remained in the same private collection for more than two decades.

Wanted works

However, this is not the first time Number 31 appeared on the market. It sold for US$3.5 million in 1998 at Christie’s, according to the Artnet price database. This painting could now sell for 13 times that amount, while potentially setting a new sales record for Jackson Pollock. For that, it will have to exceed the 61 million dollars raised by “Number 17” last November at Sotheby’s, during the first part of the Macklowe sale. This amount turned out to be well above his original estimate of $35 million.

Other Jackson Pollock creations have reached auction heights over the past 10 years. Among them, #31 and Number 19 sold for US$55 million and US$58 million respectively. Some of the American Expressionist painter’s pieces have been known to change hands for even greater sums in private transactions. — Studio ETX

About Catharine C. Bean

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