Rare Drip Painting by Jackson Pollock from 1949 goes up for auction

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One of American artist Jackson Pollock’s signature ‘Drip’ paintings is poised to become one of Pollock’s most expensive works after it is put up for auction next month for the first time in decades.

Important facts

number 31 is expected to fetch more than $45 million at Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale auction on May 12, after remaining in the same private collection for more than 20 years, according to the auction house.

The painting was last auctioned in 1988 for $3.5 million, up from $8.5 million today, they say Artnet.

Number 31 has been featured in major Pollock exhibitions including 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a 1998 retrospective shown at both MoMA and Tate Modern in London.

Pollock painted Number 31 in 1949, the same year that he began his art career, after mastering the “drip painting” technique, sometimes pouring paint directly from a can onto a canvas laid horizontally on the floor to push and mix pigments with a stick.

In August of the same year, Pollock appeared in a four-sided spread in life magazine, which suggested he might “the greatest living painter‘ in the country, and by the end of 1949 his paintings had been purchased by five major museums and 40 prominent private collectors, according to Christie’s.

Big number

$61.2 million. This is the auction record for a painting by Jackson Pollock, set last year when his painting Number 17, 1951 was sold at the Macklowe Collection auction. The winning bid was more than double Sotheby’s estimate for the painting. Pollock paintings have been known to sell even more in the private market: in 2016, billionaire Citadel founder Ken Griffin bought a 1949 drip painting from fellow billionaire and DreamWorks founder David Geffen for 200 million dollarsaccording to the New York Times.

key background

Number 31 will be auctioned this May alongside other high-profile works and collections as the art world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the market in 2020. A portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol could fetch more than $200 million, while collections from wealthy art patrons like the Macklowes and Anne H. Bass will help boost auction house sales.

Further reading

Andy Warhol’s portrait of Marilyn Monroe could fetch $200 millionforbes)

Art philanthropist Anne Bass’s $250 million collection of paintings and statues to be auctioned (forbes)

Rarely Seen Portrait of Pablo Picasso’s Muse Makes Auction Debut (forbes)

Art market surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2021 with $65 billion in revenue, report says (forbes)

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