Jackson Pollock. Full Fathom Five. 1947
Jackson Pollock

Full Fathom Five

1947
Not on view
Medium
Oil on canvas with nails, tacks, buttons, key, coins, cigarettes, matches, etc.
Dimensions
50 7/8 x 30 1/8" (129.2 x 76.5 cm)
Credit
Gift of Peggy Guggenheim
Object number
186.1952
Copyright
© 2015 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Full Fathom Five is one of Pollock's first "drip" paintings. While its top layers consist of poured lines of black and shiny silver house paint, a large part of the paint's crust was applied by brush and palette knife; the result is a labyrinthine web that reveals an instantaneous unity between multiple crisscrossing and planar forms with no contours. An assortment of detritus, from cigarette butts to coins and a key, are enfolded by the paint. Though many of these items are obscured, they contribute to the painting's dense surface and churning sensation. The title, suggested by Pollock's neighbor, quotes from Shakespeare's The Tempest, wherein Ariel describes a death by shipwreck: "Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are coral made / Those are pearls that were his eyes."

Gallery label from 2006

Additional text

Full Fathom Five is one of Pollock’s earliest “drip” paintings. While its lacelike top layers consist of poured skeins of house paint, Pollock built up the underlayer using a brush and palette knife. A close look reveals an assortment of objects embedded in the surface, including cigarette butts, nails, thumbtacks, buttons, coins, and a key. Though many of these items are obscured by paint, they contribute to the work’s dense and encrusted appearance. The title, suggested by a neighbor, comes from Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, in which the character Ariel describes a death by shipwreck: “Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are coral made / Those are pearls that were his eyes.”

Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource