Echo: Number 25, 1951 is a radical departure from Pollock’s earlier "drip" paintings. In contrast to the explosive energy and multidirectional force of One: Number 31, 1950, made the previous year, Echo: Number 25, 1951 has a lyrical economy, and, though abstract, the painting flirts with figuration. Pollock recognized this, and he wrote in a letter to a friend, “I’ve had a period of drawing on canvas in black—with some of my early images coming thru—think the non-objectivists will find them disturbing—and the kids who think it simple to splash a Pollock out.”
Gallery label from Abstract Expressionist New York, October 3, 2010-April 25, 2011.
Though his “drip paintings” brought him enormous critical and financial success, rather than continuing in this vein Pollock switched course. In 1951, he began a series of paintings that included Echo: Number 25, 1951. He reduced his palette solely to black and poured the enamel paint onto unprimed canvas with a slowness and control that resulted in compositions characterized more by delicacy and economy than by explosive, radiating energy. Even more radically, he re-introduced hints of figuration into these works, such as the eye that peers out from the upper-left corner of Echo, or the faces and bodies that emerge from his lines in the other canvases in this series. Pollock’s new direction confounded many admirers and critics. Anticipating this, he wrote to a friend, “[I] think the non-objectivists will find them disturbing,” yet his pared-down approach introduced a new creative pathway that helped lay the ground for Minimalism.
Additional text from In The Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting online course, Coursera, 2017