This chronology compiles and consolidates information published in the Jackson Pollock literature, including, most extensively, Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith's Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, published in 1989. It has benefited greatly from Francis V. O'Connor and Eugene V. Thaw's 1978 Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works, B. H. Friedman's Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible, Ellen G. Landau's Jackson Pollock, and Jeffrey Potter's To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock.
January. Paul Jackson Pollock is born on Watkins Ranch, Cody, Wyoming. His mother, Stella May McClure (1875-1958), and father, LeRoy (Roy) Pollock (1876-1933), both of Scottish-Irish descent, were born and raised in Tingley, Iowa. (His father, born LeRoy McCoy, was adopted at the age of two by James and Elizabeth Pollock.) Jackson has four elder brothers: Charles Cecil (1902-1988), Marvin Jay (1904-1986), Frank Leslie (1907-1994), and Sanford (Sande) LeRoy (1909-1963).
November 28. On Thanksgiving Day, Stella and her five sons leave Cody, joining Roy in National City, California, a newly developed fruit-growing community located between San Diego and the Mexican border.
August 11. The Pollock family moves to Phoenix, Arizona, where Roy buys a twenty-acre farm with an adobe house.
The tip of Jackson's right index finger is accidentally cut off while he and an older boy are playing at chopping wood.
In the summer, the Pollock family moves to Chico, in the central valley of Northern California, where Roy plans to farm an eighteen-acre orchard of peach, plum, and apricot trees.
December 31. After selling their Chico farm, Stella and Roy Pollock buy a hotel, the Diamond Mountain Inn, in Janesville, California, 120 miles northeast of Chico. Except for Charles and Jay, who remain in Chico to attend high school, the rest of the family will move to Janesville in February 1920.
October. Roy Pollock separates from his family but maintains contact with them, sending monthly letters and checks and visiting on holidays.
Late Spring. Stella exchanges the hotel in Janesville for a small farm near Orland, California, about twenty miles west of Chico, where Charles and Jay are still attending high school. Frank, Sande, and Jackson move with Stella to the farm.
Late December. Visiting the family near Orland for the first time, Charles Pollock announces that he has quit high school to move to Los Angeles. Shortly after Charles's arrival in Los Angeles in early 1922, Arthur Millier, a local art critic, will help him find a job at the Los Angeles Times, first as a copyboy and then in the art department doing layout.
Charles enrolls at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He begins sending copies of The Dial, a monthly periodical containing fiction, poetry, book reviews, and black-and-white reproductions of fine art, to the Pollock family in Orland, providing Jackson with his first exposure to modern art.1
May. Roy finds a surveying job in Arizona. The family reunites and returns to Phoenix.
September. Jackson enrolls in the sixth grade of Monroe Elementary School, in Phoenix.
Summer. Roy joins the family at Carr Ranch, a summer retreat in the mountains east of Phoenix, where Stella is working as a cook.
Early September. Stella, Frank, Sande, and Jackson move to Riverside, California, approximately sixty miles east of Los Angeles.
After several years in Los Angeles studying at Otis Art Institute, Charles moves to New York, where he registers as a student of Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League.
Jackson graduates from Grant Elementary School in Riverside. In the fall, he enrolls in Manual Training School, Riverside.
June-July. Roy arranges for Jackson and Sande to live and work with a surveying crew near the Grand Canyon. Jackson takes his first alcoholic drink.
Fall. Jackson enrolls at Riverside High School and joins the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. Although only fifteen, he is already drinking heavily. During the fall semester, while drunk, Jackson punches a student officer during an ROTC parade drill and is expelled from ROTC.
March. After months of academic and emotional struggle, Jackson withdraws from Riverside High School.
Summer. The Pollock family moves to Los Angeles, without Roy, who remains in Riverside. Frank moves to New York.
September 11. Jackson enrolls at Manual Arts High School, where he concentrates on art. Frederick John de St. Vrain Schwankovsky, head of the art department, introduces him to abstract art and to the writings of mystical thinkers such as Krishnamurti and Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Theosophy.
March. Jackson is expelled from Manual Arts for disciplinary problems.2
July. Jackson works briefly with his father in Santa Ynez, California, but soon decides to return to Los Angeles. A fist fight with his father ensues.
Fall. Jackson is readmitted to Manual Arts. He subscribes to the magazine Creative Art and is particularly impressed by an article on the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.3
Spring. Following a second expulsion the previous fall, Jackson attends Manual Arts on a part-time basis.
June. Charles and Frank return to Los Angeles for the summer. Jackson and Charles see José Clemente Orozco's Prometheus fresco in the recently completed Frary Hall of Pomona College, in Claremont, California.
September. Jackson follows Charles and Frank to New York City.
September 29. Having taken free sculpture classes at Greenwich House, a neighborhood association on Barrow Street, Jackson begins classes at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, enrolling with Charles in Thomas Hart Benton's class.
October. Benton begins his mural cycle America Today on the fifth floor of the New School for Social Research, at 66 West 12th Street.
A month later, José Clemente Orozco begins a mural cycle in the seventh-floor cafeteria of the same building.4
June. Charles marries Elizabeth England.
Summer. Jackson hitchhikes with Manuel Tolegian from New York to Los Angeles, where they visit museums and galleries.5 In late August, both work briefly as lumberjacks.
Fall. Jackson returns to New York, where he takes Benton's mural class and is tutored privately by the older artist.
Summer. Jackson makes another trip to Los Angeles, where a friend introduces him to the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, a political exile living in the city since May.
Fall. Returning to New York, Jackson moves into Charles and Elizabeth's two-room apartment at 46 Carmine Street. Charles's studio fills the front room, while Jackson's bed and paintings occupy the back.6
October 3. Jackson is named class monitor in Thomas Hart Benton's mural class.
December. Benton accepts a commission to paint a mural representing the state of Indiana at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and leaves New York for several months.
January. Jackson enrolls in John Sloan's "Life Drawing, Painting, and Composition" class at the Art Students League. He also joins a stone-carving class at Greenwich House Annex, on Jones Street, and takes a part-time job there as a custodian.
February. Jackson quits Sloan's class and enrolls in Robert Laurent's evening clay-modeling class.
March. Roy Pollock dies on March 6, having fallen ill with malignant endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the valves of the heart, in December 1932.
At the end of the month, Jackson drops out of Laurent's class to devote himself to stone carving.
April. Jackson moves with Charles and Elizabeth Pollock to 46 East 8th Street, where they rent an entire floor for $35 a month.
Jackson watches Diego Rivera paint his controversial mural in the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center.7
Fall. Jackson rents a room in a brownstone on 58th Street to try to live on his own, and begins painting again.
Benton returns to New York and resumes teaching at the Art Students League. Jackson takes part in Monday-evening meetings of the "Harmonica Rascals" at the Bentons' home.
Winter. Jackson renders small sketches for murals in lunettes at Greenwich House. The murals are never executed.
Siqueiros arrives in New York early in the year.
Late Spring. Jackson visits the Bentons on Martha's Vineyard, where he will make regular visits through 1937.
Mid-Summer. Jackson and Charles journey cross-country in a 1926 Model T Ford. For Jackson, this is the fourth such trip in five years.
On returning to New York, Jackson moves to a small cold-water flat above a lumberyard at 76 West Houston Street.
October. Sande arrives in New York, moving in with Jackson on Houston Street.
Winter 1934-35. Charles, now a part-time teacher at the City and Country School at 165 West 12th Street, and Benton help Sande and Jackson get a shared job cleaning the five-story school for $10 a week. The Bentons' friends Caroline Pratt, the school's director, and Helen Marot, a teacher who has studied psychology, take an interest in Jackson; they will support and encourage his work throughout the rest of the decade.
At Rita Benton's initiative, Jackson attends a free ceramics workshop taught by Job Goodman at the Henry Street Settlement House. Jackson sells a number of painted plates and bowls at an exhibition in the basement of the Ferargil Gallery, Thomas Benton's dealer.
Unable to make ends meet, Jackson and Sande sign up to receive direct government aid.
February. Jackson paints a "vast, lewd mural in the style of Orozco" on the walls of his studio at 76 West Houston Street.8
February 1-28. Jackson shows Threshers in the Eighth Exhibition of Watercolors, Pastels, and Drawings by American and French Artists, at the Brooklyn Museum.
February 25. Jackson is hired as a stonecutter by the New York City Emergency Relief Bureau, restoring public monuments for $1.75 an hour.
April. Benton leaves New York for Missouri, where he has been invited to become the director of the Kansas City Art Institute.
August. Jackson and Sande enlist with the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Sande, who has worked with Siqueiros in Los Angeles, is assigned to the mural division. To stay close to his brother, Jackson also joins the mural division rather than the easel division.
A WPA regulation prohibits one house-hold from receiving two of the agency's paychecks. To camouflage the fact that he and Jackson are brothers, Sande changes his last name to McCoy.
Charles leaves New York for Washington, D.C., taking a position at the Resettlement Administration.
September. With Sande, Jackson moves back to the 46 East 8th Street apartment vacated by Charles and Elizabeth.9
Jackson continues working for the Federal Arts Project. Early in the year, he submits a proposal for a mural but fails to secure a commission.
March 2-April 19. The exhibition Cubism and Abstract Art is on view at The Museum of Modern Art.
April. Siqueiros establishes a "Laboratory of Modern Techniques in Art" in his loft at 5 West 14th Street. Jackson and Sande participate in the workshop, helping to prepare a May Day celebration with posters, banners, and a giant float. Siqueiros experiments with nontraditional materials such as enamel paint, and with unconventional techniques of paint application: dripping, pouring, and airbrushing. Jackson will soon use an airbrush to color a lithograph and will subsequently make use of many of Siqueiros's materials and techniques.
July 25. Sande marries Arloie Conaway. Jackson, Sande, and Arloie will live in the 8th Street apartment.
Late Summer. Jackson, Sande, Philip Goldstein (later known as Philip Guston), and two other friends visit Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, to see Orozco's mural The Epic of American Civilization, in the Baker Library.
December 7, 1936-January 17, 1937. The exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism is on view at The Museum of Modern Art.
Winter. At a Christmas party, Jackson briefly encounters Lenore ("Lee") Krasner, but they will not meet again until 1942.
January. At Sande's insistence Jackson begins psychiatric treatment for alcoholism, under the care of a Jungian analyst.
February 3-21. Jackson exhibits Cotton Pickers at the Temporary Galleries of the Municipal Art Committee, 62 West 53rd Street.
September. Sande closes off the front part of the Houston Street apartment for Jackson to use as a studio.
October. Jackson exhibits a watercolor in the first exhibition at the new WPA Federal Art Gallery, at 225 West 57th Street.
Winter 1937-38. Jackson spends Christmas with the Bentons in Kansas City. He also visits Detroit to see his brother Charles, who has recently moved there to work as an illustrator and muralist.
June 9. Jackson's employment with the Federal Arts Project is terminated due to "continued absence."10
June 12. In the hope of curing Jackson's drinking problem, Sande commits him as a "voluntary patient" in the Westchester Division of New York Hospital (Bloomingdale Asylum), located in White Plains, thirty-five miles north of New York City. Remaining there until September, Jackson makes a few copper plaques and bowls in the hospital's metal workshop.
November. Jackson is reassigned to the easel division of the WPA project.
Jackson begins sessions with another Jungian psychoanalyst, Dr. Joseph Henderson. After several sessions, he starts to bring his drawings to Henderson, who uses them as therapeutic and interpretive tools.11
May. Jackson sees Pablo Picasso's Guernica, and preparatory sketches made for the work, at the Valentine Gallery on 57th Street, where it is exhibited by the Artists' Congress to help raise funds for refugees from the Spanish Civil War. Jackson returns to see it repeatedly, sometimes sketching.
July. The Federal Arts Project is reorganized as the WPA Art Program.
November 15, 1939-January 7, 1940. The exhibition Picasso: Forty Years of His Art is on view at The Museum of Modern Art.
May. Sande writes to Charles: "Jack is doing very good work. After years of trying to work along lines completely unsympathetic to his nature, he has finally dropped the Benton nonsense and is coming out with an honest creative art."12
June. Pollock watches Orozco at work at The Museum of Modern Art, where the Mexican artist has been commissioned to paint a portable mural, Dive Bomber and Tank, in conjunction with the exhibition Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art.13
June 3. Helen Marot dies. A period of sustained depression begins for Pollock, marked by increased drinking and little painting.
September. Dr. Henderson moves to San Francisco and refers Pollock to Dr. Violet Staub de Laszlo for continued therapy. Pollock will visit her twice a week for the next year.
January 22-April 27. The exhibition Indian Art of the United States is on view at The Museum of Modern Art. Pollock attends the exhibition and watches Navajo artists execute sand paintings on the gallery floor.
May 3. Dr. de Laszlo writes on Pollock's behalf to the medical officer of Local Board No. 17, requesting draft deferment for him on psychological grounds. After she submits another letter reporting Pollock's stay at Bloomingdale Asylum, and Pollock undergoes an examination at Beth Israel Hospital, he is classified 4-F--unfit for service.
July 13. Art collector Peggy Guggenheim arrives in New York from Europe, having shipped her art collection to the U.S. earlier in the year. She makes plans to open an art gallery showing the work of modern European masters.
January 20-February 6. Pollock exhibits Birth (c. 1941) in American and French Paintings at McMillen Inc., at 148 East 55th Street. The exhibition, organized by John Graham, an influential artist and critic, includes works by Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and André Derain, as well as several American artists including Stuart Davis and Walt Kuhn. Lee Krasner, who is represented in the exhibition by Abstraction, seeks out Pollock after seeing his painting. The relationship that will develop between them marks a turning point in Pollock's life: Krasner supports and promotes Pollock's work, and introduces him to the influential German émigré Hans Hofmann and members of his circle, such as Mercedes Carles and Herbert Matter.
Spring. Herbert Matter invites James Johnson Sweeney to visit Pollock's studio. Sweeney tells Peggy Guggenheim that Pollock is "doing interesting work" and suggests she visit the studio.
Summer. Under the auspices of the War Services Division of the WPA Art Program, Krasner directs a project designing department-store window displays announcing war-related training courses at local schools and colleges. She makes Pollock an assistant on the project.
August. Sande, Arloie, and their daughter, Karen (born November 9, 1941), move to Deep River, Connecticut, vacating the East 8th Street apartment they have shared with Jackson. Krasner moves in.
Fall. Interested in breaking from the Surrealist movement in America, which is controlled by André Breton, Matta (Roberto Sebastián Matta Echaurren) seeks to build up a community of automatist artists in New York. Robert Motherwell helps him, and after Pollock attends a dinner party at Matta's apartment on 12th Street, they bring him into the fold. But Pollock soon becomes frustrated with the group, and by late winter the "workshop" has disbanded.
October. Having finished the WPA window-display project, Krasner is assigned a project designing posters for navy recruiting stations. She hires Pollock for the team. Two months later, however, the WPA will be terminated.
October 20. Peggy Guggenheim opens her gallery, Art of This Century, at 30 West 57th Street. A press release describes the gallery as a "research laboratory for new ideas" that will "serve the future instead of recording the past."14 Designed by the architect Frederick Kiesler, the gallery displays the collection of modern art that Guggenheim has been accumulating since 1938. In addition to showing European modernism, especially Surrealism, however, Guggenheim has become interested in discovering young artists, including emerging Americans.
Late 1942. Krasner and Pollock take up odd jobs to pay the bills. Through Joe Meert, a friend from the Art Students League, Pollock gets a night job at Creative Printmakers, on 18th Street, as a "squeegee man," silk-screening designs on lipstick tubes, neckties, scarves, and plates; he only lasts two months on the job due to heavy drinking and meager productivity. Pollock will use the silkscreen technique in several 1943-44 prints.
Pollock ends therapy with Dr. de Laszlo.
December 7, 1942-January 22, 1943. Pollock exhibits The Flame (c. 1934-38) in Artists for Victory, an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
April 16-May 15. Pollock exhibits Collage (now lost) in an international collage exhibition at Art of This Century. He is included at the suggestion of Howard Putzel, Guggenheim's gallery director, whom he had met the previous summer.
May 8. Pollock begins work as a custodian and preparator of paintings at The Museum of Non-Objective Painting, at 24 East 54th Street. (In 1947 this museum will move to 1071 Fifth Avenue and in 1952 will be renamed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.)
May 18-June 26. Pollock is included in the Spring Salon for Young Artists at Art of This Century, an exhibition almost exclusively of American artists, all age thirty-five and under. At Putzel's suggestion, Pollock submits Stenographic Figure (c. 1942) to the salon's jury--Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian, James Johnson Sweeney, James Thrall Soby, Peggy Guggenheim, and Putzel himself. Guggenheim is initially unimpressed by Stenographic Figure, but Mondrian's response--"I'm trying to understand what's happening here. I think this is the most interesting work I've seen so far in America. . . . You must watch this man"15--convinces her to put Pollock in the show.
June 23. Guggenheim visits Pollock's studio. Putzel tries to convince her to offer Pollock a solo show, but she delays her decision until Duchamp has made a studio visit.
July. On the recommendation of Duchamp and others, including Matta, Sweeney, and Putzel, Guggenheim schedules a solo show for Pollock in November 1943. She signs a one-year contract paying him $150 a month as an advance against sales, which allows him to paint full-time.
Guggenheim also commissions a mural from Pollock for the entrance hall of her East 61st Street town house.16 She initially wants him to work directly on the wall, but Duchamp convinces her otherwise, arguing that a work on canvas will not have to be abandoned should she ever leave the town house. Pollock tears down a wall in his East 8th Street apartment so he can stretch the twenty-foot-long canvas.
November 9-27. Pollock's exhibition at Art of This Century, his first solo show, comprises fifteen oil paintings and an unrecorded number of works on paper, all executed between 1941 and 1943. The exhibition includes Guardians of the Secret, The Mad Moon-Woman, Male and Female, The Moon Woman, The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle, The She-Wolf, Stenographic Figure, and six untitled paintings, plus gouaches and drawings. Prices range from $25 to $750. The show is the first solo exhibition by an American artist at Art of This Century.
Late December/Early January 1944. Pollock paints the mural for Guggenheim's East 61st Street town house.17
February. A rehearsed interview with Pollock is published in Arts & Architecture. Asked why he prefers living in New York, Pollock responds: "Living is keener, more demanding, more intense and expansive in New York than in the West. . . . At the same time I have a definite feeling for the West: the vast horizontality of the land, for instance; here only the Atlantic ocean gives you that." Pollock says that he rejects "the idea of an isolated American painting," but sees no reason to go to Europe. "I don't see why the problems of modern painting can't be solved as well here as elsewhere."18
May 2. The Museum of Modern Art acquires The She-Wolf for $650, on the initial recommendation of James Thrall Soby, the Chairman of the Museum's Department of Painting and Sculpture. Along with Sidney Janis (head of the acquisitions committee) and James Johnson Sweeney, Soby convinces Alfred H. Barr, Jr. (Director of Research in the Department of Painting and Sculpture), that the painting is a worthy addition to the Museum's collection. It is the first Pollock to be purchased by a museum.
Mid-June. Pollock and Krasner sublet their 8th Street studio and rent a studio on Back Street in Provincetown, Massachusetts, for the summer; Putzel, who has left Art of This Century and is planning to open his own gallery, joins them for two weeks.
Fall. Back in New York, Pollock begins making prints in Stanley William Hayter's Atelier 17, across the street from his and Krasner's apartment.
Krasner persuades Pollock to visit her homeopathic doctor, Elizabeth Wright Hubbard.
November. Publication of Sidney Janis's book Abstract and Surrealist Art in America, which includes a statement by Pollock on The She-Wolf: "She-Wolf came into existence because I had to paint it. Any attempt on my part to say something about it, to attempt explanation of the inexplicable, could only destroy it."19
March 5-31. Solo exhibition of Pollock's work at The Arts Club of Chicago. The exhibition comprises seventeen paintings and eight drawings. The paintings include Guardians of the Secret, The Mad Moon-Woman, Male and Female, The Moon Woman, Pasiphaë, and Stenographic Figure, plus eight untitled paintings. Later in the year a selection of works from the show will travel to the San Francisco Museum of Art.
March 19-April 14. Pollock's second solo exhibition at Art of This Century comprises thirteen paintings including Totem Lesson 1, Totem Lesson 2, Night Mist, Two, and There Were Seven in Eight. There are also gouaches and drawings. Visitors on the exhibition's opening day are invited to Peggy Guggenheim's town house to view Mural. Reviewing the exhibition in The Nation, Clement Greenberg champions Pollock as "the strongest painter of his generation and perhaps the greatest one to appear since Miró."20
April. Pollock's contract with Guggenheim comes up for renewal. She agrees to double his monthly stipend in exchange for receiving every painting but one (of his choosing) he will produce a year.
August. Krasner and Pollock visit friends in East Hampton, Long Island. The front porch affords a distant view of Accabonac Harbor to the west.
August 7. Howard Putzel dies of a heart attack.
September. Pollock agrees to Krasner's proposal that they should leave New York City. "We wanted to get away from the wear and tear," he will comment later.21
October 25. Krasner and Pollock marry, at the Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. May Tabak, Harold Rosenberg's wife, is the witness. Guggenheim is invited but cancels at the last minute.
November 5. Krasner and Pollock move into a farmhouse at 830 Fireplace Road, The Springs, East Hampton, Long Island. Although their house is some distance from the ocean, their backyard looks out onto Accabonac Creek.22
Thanksgiving. Pollock's family visits to celebrate the holiday.
Winter 1945-46. During a harsh winter, Pollock and Krasner begin fixing up the house; there is no hot water, no bathroom, and they have no car. Pollock does not paint during these months.
Pollock resumes painting, using an upstairs bedroom as a makeshift studio. The Key is painted on a canvas attached to a curtain stretcher laid on the bedroom floor.
Pollock designs the dust jacket for Peggy Guggenheim's controversial memoir, Out of This Century.
April 2-20. Pollock's third solo exhibition at Art of This Century. He shows eleven oil paintings, including Troubled Queen, and eight temperas. Clement Greenberg reviews the show favorably in The Nation, and it receives a generally positive response from other critics.
Summer. Pollock has the barn in the backyard moved to the side of the property so that it will not block the view of Accabonac Creek. He starts to use the barn as his studio, although it remains drafty and rough. Krasner begins using the upstairs bedroom as her studio.
Krasner will later describe Pollock's schedule at The Springs: "He always slept very late. Drinking or not, he never got up in the morning. . . . While he had his breakfast I had my lunch. . . . He would sit over that damn cup of coffee for two hours. By that time it was afternoon. He'd get off and work until it was dark. There were no lights in his studio. When the days were short he could only work for a few hours, but what he managed to do in those few hours was incredible."23
December 10, 1946-January 16, 1947. Pollock shows for the first time in the Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York--the "Whitney Annual." He is represented by the 1943-45 canvas Two.
January 14-February 1. Pollock's fourth solo exhibition at Art of This Century. He exhibits sixteen paintings, including Peggy Guggenheim's Mural and two distinct groups: the Accabonac Creek Series comprises paintings done in the upstairs bedroom before summer 1946; the Sounds in the Grass Series comprises paintings finished in the barn studio.
April 1-May 4. Pollock exhibits Mural in Large Scale Modern Paintings at The Museum of Modern Art.
May 31. Art of This Century closes its doors, after Peggy Guggenheim decides to return to Europe. After much coaxing, she persuades the dealer Betty Parsons to show Pollock's work. She will maintain her contract with Pollock until early 1948, at which point Parsons will enter into a similar agreement with the artist.
Fall. Pollock applies for a Guggenheim Fellowship but does not receive it.
October. In the English magazine Horizon, Clement Greenberg writes, "The most powerful painter in contemporary America and the only one who promises to be a major one is a Gothic, morbid and extreme disciple of Picasso's Cubism and Miró's post-Cubism, tinctured also with Kandinsky and Surrealist inspiration. His name is Jackson Pollock."24
Winter 1947-48. In a statement for the journal Possibilities, Pollock explains, "On the floor 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. . . . I continue to get further away from the usual painter's tools. . . . When I am in my painting, I'm not aware of what I am doing. It is only after a sort of 'get acquainted' period that I see what I have been about."25
December 6, 1947-January 25, 1948. Pollock exhibits Galaxy (1947) in the Whitney Annual.
January 5-23. Pollock's first show at the Betty Parsons Gallery, at 15 East 57th Street. He exhibits seventeen paintings including Gothic and (in his new, "allover" drip style) Alchemy, Cathedral, Comet, Enchanted Forest, Full Fathom Five, Lucifer, Phosphorescence, Reflection of the Big Dipper, and Sea Change. The reviews are generally favorable.
May. Pollock participates in a protest at The Museum of Modern Art against art critics and museums hostile to abstract art.
May 29-September 30. Peggy Guggenheim's collection is shown at the XXIV Venice Biennale. The exhibition includes six works by Pollock. Among them are Eyes in the Heat, The Moon Woman, and Two. With an additional four pictures by Pollock, the show will travel to Florence in February 1949, and to Rome in June 1949.
June. Thanks to the support of James Johnson Sweeney, Pollock is awarded a one-year grant from the Eben Demarest Trust, which supplements his yearly income with four quarterly payments of $1,500.26
Through Betty Parsons, Pollock becomes reacquainted with Tony Smith, whom he had known at the Arts Students League in the 1930s.
Fall. Pollock begins treatment for alcoholism with Dr. Edwin Heller, a general practitioner who has recently arrived in East Hampton. Under Heller's care, Pollock is able to stop drinking.
October 11. Life magazine publishes "A Life Round Table on Modern Art." Pollock is included, along with Picasso, Miró, Georges Rouault, Matisse, Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, William Baziotes, and Theodoros Stamos.27
January. Peggy Guggenheim tries but fails to secure a one-man show for Pollock in Paris.
January 24-February 12. Pollock's second show at the Betty Parsons Gallery consists of twenty-six works painted in 1948, including (by their current titles) Number 1A; Number 5; The Wooden Horse: Number 10A; Number 13A: Arabesque; White Cockatoo: Number 24A; and Number 26A: Black and White. Works on paper include Number 4: Gray and Red; Number 12A: Yellow, Gray, Black; Number 14; Number 15: Red, Gray, White, Yellow; Number 20; Number 22A; and Number 23. Lee Krasner will later explain the reason for numerical titles: "Numbers are neutral. They make people look at a painting for what it is--pure painting."28 Critical response is varied. Clement Greenberg, in The Nation, likens Number 1A, 1948 to the work of "a Quattrocento master,"29 but another reviewer finds that Pollock's paintings remind her of "a mop of tangled hair I have an irresistible urge to comb out."30
Mid-April. Pollock's mother writes to Charles Pollock of a visit to East Hampton, "Was out at Jack and Lee was so nice to be there and see them so happy and no drinking . . . he feels so much better says so they were getting ready to put in garden they have good soil Lee loves to dig in the dirt and she has green fingers."31
June. Pollock signs a contract with Betty Parsons through January 1, 1952,
with terms similar to those of his former contract with Guggenheim.
Pollock begins making terra-cotta sculptures in the studio of East Hampton neighbor Roseanne Larkin. He will work in her studio off and on through the spring of 1950.
Pollock meets fellow painter Alfonso Ossorio.
August 3-October 5. Pollock exhibits two sculptures in Sculpture by Painters, an exhibition organized by Jane Sabersky at The Museum of Modern Art. The show will travel to twelve U.S. cities from November 1949 to May 1951.
August 8. Life magazine publishes an unsigned article: "Jackson Pollock: Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" (The author is Dorothy Seiberling.) It includes photographs by Martha Holmes of Pollock at work, as well as Arnold Newman's photograph of the artist standing in front of Summertime: Number 9A, 1948.
September 4-October 3. Pollock shows an untitled painting in The Intrasubjectives, an exhibition at the Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, New York, which also includes work by Baziotes, Arshile Gorky, Morris Graves, Hofmann, de Kooning, Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, Mark Tobey, and Bradley Walker Tomlin. Kootz's exhibition helps define the movement that will become known as Abstract Expressionism.
November 21-December 10. Pollock's third solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. He exhibits thirty-five works, again with numerical titles. Some of these are works from 1948 that had been shown in the previous exhibition at Parsons but did not sell. In order not to confuse these with works from 1949, Parsons adds the letter "A" to the titles of the unsold 1948 paintings--for example, Number 1, 1948 becomes Number 1A, 1948.32 Also included in the show is Peter Blake's model for an "ideal museum," which incorporates small wire-and-plaster sculptures by Pollock. At Blake's request, the Hungarian architect Marcel Breuer, who is designing a house for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Geller in Lawrence, Long Island, visits the exhibition; he immediately calls the Gellers and secures a commission for Pollock to paint a mural for their home.
December 16, 1949-February 5, 1950. Pollock exhibits Number 14, 1949 in the Whitney Annual.
January 27. The Museum of Modern Art acquires Number 1A, 1948.
Winter-Early Spring. Pollock and Krasner spend this period with Ossorio in his apartment on MacDougal Alley in New York.
March. Pollock begins Untitled (Mural) for the Geller House in Lawrence, Long Island.
Dr. Edwin Heller's death in an automobile accident ends his successful treatment of Pollock's alcoholism.
May 20. Pollock is among the signatories of a letter initiated
by Barnett Newman attacking The Metropolitan Museum of Art for "contempt for modern painting. . . ." The artists refuse to take part in an upcoming juried show of contemporary painting.33
June 8-October 15. Pollock exhibits three paintings--Number 1A, 1948; Number 12, 1949; and Number 23, 1949 --in the U.S. Pavilion at the XXV Venice Biennale. Pollock is one of six artists chosen by Alfred H. Barr, Jr., and Alfred Frankfurter for an exhibition of younger American painters, accompanying a retrospective of John Marin.
Summer. Pollock, Tony Smith, and Alfonso Ossorio begin discussion on the design and construction of a Catholic church to be built on Long Island. Smith, an architect at the time, is to design a large structure for which Pollock will do a program of paintings. Talks on the project will continue through 1952, but the church is never built.34
In an interview with William Wright taped for the Sag Harbor radio station. Pollock remarks: "Most of the paint I use is a liquid, flowing kind of paint. The brushes I use are used more as sticks rather than brushes--the brush doesn't touch the surface of the canvas, it's just above. . . . I don't use the accident--'cause I deny the accident. . . . I do have a general notion of what I'm about and what the results will be. . . . The result is the thing--and--it doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement."35
July. The Pollock family holds a reunion in The Springs and takes a family picture in front of Number 2, 1949.
July-August. The photographer Hans Namuth, who has rented a summer house in Water Mill, Long Island, asks Pollock if he can photograph him while he paints. Pollock agrees. Visiting the studio repeatedly, Namuth takes approximately 200 photographs36 of Pollock at work on One: Number 31, 1950 and Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950; and several dozen posed shots of Pollock in his studio and garden. On a series of weekends extending into the fall, Namuth also shoots extensive film footage of Pollock at work.
July 22-August 12/15.37 Pollock has a solo exhibition of twenty paintings, two gouaches, and one drawing--all drawn from Peggy Guggenheim's collection38--at the Museo Correr, Venice. The exhibition includes Alchemy, Croaking Movement, Enchanted Forest, Eyes in the Heat, Full Fathom Five, The Moon Woman, Reflection of the Big Dipper, Sea Change, Two, and The Water Bull. In reduced form, the show will travel to the Galleria d'Arte del Naviglio, Milan.
Italian critic Bruno Alfieri describes Pollock's work as a manifestation of "chaos . . . absolute lack of harmony . . . complete lack of structural organization . . . total absence of technique, however rudimentary . . . once again, chaos. . . ." Yet Alfieri concludes that "Jackson Pollock is the modern painter who sits at the extreme apex of the most advanced and unprejudiced avant-garde of modern art." Compared to Pollock, he adds, Picasso "becomes a quiet conformist, a painter of the past."39
August. The New Yorker publishes a mildly mocking interview with Pollock and Krasner. Pollock says that he is grateful to Thomas Hart Benton's teaching: "He drove his kind of realism at me so hard I bounced right into non-objective painting. . . . Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you. There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment. It was a fine compliment. Only he didn't know it."40
October 23-November 11. Pollock shows Number 8, 1950 in Young Painters in U.S. & France, an exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, organized by Leo Castelli.
November 10-December 31. Pollock exhibits Number 3, 1950 in the Whitney Annual.
November 20. In an article titled "Chaos, Damn It!" Time magazine quotes the most negative parts of Bruno Alfieri's essay in L'Arte Moderne.41 In a telegram to the editor, published in the December 11 issue of Time, Pollock will reply, "No chaos damn it. Damned busy painting as you can see by my show coming up Nov. 28. . . . Think you left out most exciting part of Mr. Alfieri's piece."42
November 25. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Namuth finishes filming Pollock at work on a painting on glass, Number 29, 1950. To permit the use of color film, the work has taken place outdoors, despite increasingly cold weather. When the filming is over, Pollock goes inside and takes his first drink in two years, rapidly followed by several more. Drunk and angry, he stuns a group of dinner guests by overturning the dining table. From this moment until his death, six years later, alcohol will play an increasingly disruptive role in Pollock's life.
November 28-December 16. Pollock's fourth solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. All the works are from 1950 and include Lavender Mist: Number 1; Number 3; Number 7; Number 8; Number 27; Number 28; Number 29; Autumn Rhythm: Number 30; One: Number 31; and Number 32. The critical response is generally favorable.
January. Artnews selects Pollock's November-December show at the Betty Parsons as one of the three best exhibitions of 1950, along with shows by John Marin and Alberto Giacometti.
January 15. Life magazine publishes a photograph of Pollock and thirteen others of the "Irascible Eighteen"--a group of artists protesting the juried exhibition of contemporary painting at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The protesters become known as the "Irascibles."
January 23-March 25. Number 1A, 1948 is included in the exhibition Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America at The Museum of Modern Art.
March 8-31. Pollock's Number 8, 1950 is included in a group show, Véhémences Confrontées, organized by the French critic Michel Tapié at the Galerie Nina Dausset, Paris.
May. Artnews publishes the article "Pollock Paints a Picture," with text by the painter Robert Goodnough, five photographs by Hans Namuth showing Pollock at work on Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950, and a photograph by Rudolph Burckhardt of paint cans on the studio floor. Other Namuth photographs are published in the 1951 issue of Portfolio magazine.43
May 21-June 10. Pollock shows Number 1, 1949 in the 9th Street Show, at 60 East 9th Street. The exhibition is organized by some of the charter members of "The Club," an artists' social group that includes Franz Kline, Conrad Marca-Relli, and John Ferren, along with Leo Castelli.
June 7. Pollock writes to Ossorio: "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's simple to splash a Pollock out."44
June 14. Namuth's film of Pollock at work, coproduced and codirected with Paul Falkenberg, premieres at The Museum of Modern Art.
October 15-November 13. Krasner's first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery.
November 26-December 15. Pollock's fifth solo show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. He exhibits twenty-one paintings including Number 11, Number 14, Number 17, Number 18, Number 19, and Echo: Number 25, plus watercolors and drawings, all from 1951. The paintings are done primarily with black paint on seemingly raw canvas, and appear to expose figurative images.
January. Pollock's contract with Betty Parsons expires. Dissatisfied with his sales, Pollock wants to leave the gallery, but Parsons convinces him to remain with her until May, so that she can try to sell some of the pictures from the 1951 exhibition.
March 7-31. Ossorio arranges a one-man show for Pollock, titled Jackson Pollock 1948-1951, at Studio Paul Facchetti, Paris. Michel Tapié helps to organize the exhibition. Ossorio writes Pollock that the exhibition has been received with great interest in the French art world.45
April 9-July 27. Pollock is included in 15 Americans, an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, organized by Dorothy C. Miller. He shows eight paintings, including Number 5, 1948; Number 2, 1949; Number 7, 1950; Number 28, 1950; Number 29, 1950; Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950; and Number 22, 1951.
May. Still unhappy with his slow sales, Pollock leaves the Betty Parsons Gallery and moves to the Sidney Janis Gallery, across the hall from Parsons at 15 East 57th Street.
November 10-29. Pollock's first solo exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery. He shows twelve paintings from 1952, including Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952 and Convergence: Number 10, 1952.
November 17-30. A Retrospective Show of the Paintings of Jackson Pollock, organized by Clement Greenberg at Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont. The show will travel to Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts. The exhibition comprises just eight paintings; the earliest work shown is Pasiphaë (c. 1943) and the latest Echo: Number 25, 1951.
January. Artnews votes Pollock's November show at the Sidney Janis Gallery the second-best exhibition of 1952, after an exhibition by Joan Miró.
April 9-May 29. Four paintings by Pollock--The She-Wolf, Number 6, 1952, Convergence: Number 10, 1952, and Number 12, 1952--are included in 12 Peintres et Sculpteurs Américains Contemporains, an exhibition organized and circulated by the International Program of The Museum of Modern Art, and selected by Andrew Carnduff Ritchie. The exhibition opens at the Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, and will travel to Zurich, Düsseldorf, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Oslo.
October 15-December 6. Pollock shows Number 5, 1952 in the Whitney Annual.
Pollock is relatively inactive this year, painting only a few works.
February 1-27. Pollock's second solo exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery. He shows ten paintings, all from 1953 including The Deep, Easter and the Totem, Ocean Greyness, Portrait and a Dream, and Unformed Figure.
November. Pollock's mother, Stella Pollock, has several heart attacks.
Summer. Pollock reenters analysis, coming into New York City for regular therapy sessions.
July. Pollock obtains a passport.
September 26-October 15. Krasner has a solo exhibition at Stable Gallery of her large collage paintings. As Krasner is beginning to emerge as an artist, Pollock is finding it harder and harder to paint.
November 28-December 31. Pollock has his third solo exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery. Because he has produced so little new work, the exhibition is organized as a retrospective titled 15 Years of Jackson Pollock. Sixteen paintings are shown, including The Flame (1934-38), Pasiphaë (1943), Gothic (1944), Totem Lesson 2 (1945), The Key (1946), Eyes in the Heat (1946), White Cockatoo: Number 24A, 1948, Out of the Web: Number 7, 1949, Autumn Rhythm: Number 30, 1950, Echo: Number 25, 1951, Convergence: Number 10, 1952, White Light (1954), and Search (1955), Pollock's last oil painting.
Spring. Pollock has not painted in almost eighteen months.
The art historian Selden Rodman interviews Pollock, who rejects the usual labels for his art: "I don't care for 'abstract expressionism'. . . it's certainly not 'nonobjective,' and not 'nonrepresentational' either. I'm very representational some of the time, and a little all of the time. But when you're painting out of your unconscious, figures are bound to emerge."46
May. Pollock receives a letter from Andrew Carnduff Ritchie announcing that The Museum of Modern Art is to begin a series of exhibitions on artists in mid-career, and that Pollock has been selected to inaugurate the series. The exhibition is expected to include up to twenty-five pictures.
July. Krasner leaves for a vacation in Europe. Pollock considers joining her but decides to remain in The Springs. Their relationship has steadily deteriorated over the last several months as Pollock's drinking and depression have accelerated. Pollock becomes involved with Ruth Kligman, a young aspiring artist living in New York City. Kligman moves in with Pollock at The Springs for a brief period during Krasner's absence.
August 11. Driving drunk at 10:15 p.m., Pollock hits a tree on Fireplace Road and is killed. A passenger in the car, Edith Metzger, a friend of Kligman's visiting for the weekend, also dies; Kligman, the other passenger, survives.
Lee Krasner returns from Europe immediately for Pollock's funeral.
December 19, 1956-February 3, 1957. The Museum of Modern Art's Pollock show, intended as a mid-career exhibition, appears instead as a memorial retrospective. It includes thirty-five paintings and nine watercolors and drawings from the period 1938-56.