Jackson Pollock. One: Number 31, 1950. 1950

Jackson Pollock One: Number 31, 1950 1950

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 403 The David Geffen Galleries

One: Number 31, 1950 exemplifies at a grand scale the radical “drip” technique that defined Pollock’s Abstract Expressionist style. Moving around an expanse of canvas laid on the floor, Pollock flung and poured ropes of paint across the surface. One is among the largest of his works that bear evidence of these dynamic gestures. The canvas pulses with energy: strings and skeins of enamel—some matte, some glossy—weave and run, an intricate web of tans, blues, and grays lashed through with black and white. The way the paint lies on the canvas suggests speed and force, and the image as a whole is dense and lush—yet its details have a delicacy and lyricism.

The Surrealists’ embrace of accident as a way to bypass the conscious mind sparked Pollock’s experiments with the chance effects of gravity and momentum on falling paint. However, although works like One have neither a single point of focus nor any obvious repetition or pattern, they sustain a sense of underlying order. This and the physicality of Pollock’s method have led to comparisons of his process with choreography, as if the works were the traces of a dance. Some see in paintings like One the nervous intensity of the modern city, others the primal rhythms of nature.

Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
Additional text

One: Number 31, 1950, one of Pollock’s largest paintings, exemplifies his “drip” technique, in which he dropped, dribbled, or threw paint onto a canvas laid on the floor. His looping cords of color accordingly register force and speed yet are also graceful and lyrical, animating every inch of the composition. On the floor, Pollock said, “I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.” Pollock’s process has been compared to the movements of a dance.

Gallery label from Collection 1940s—1970s, 2019
Medium
Oil and enamel paint on canvas
Dimensions
8' 10" x 17' 5 5/8" (269.5 x 530.8 cm)
Credit
Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection Fund (by exchange). Conservation was made possible by the Bank of America Art Conservation Project
Object number
7.1968
Copyright
© 2020 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at digital@moma.org.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA’s Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.