A large-scale painting by the late Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock has shed new light on how the artist created his famous spattered works. ‘Alchemy’ painted in 1947, has been returned to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice after going through an extensive conservation. The painting’s appearance had been dimmed by dirt that had accumulated over the years, ands was taken to Florence, where it underwent an detailed analytical study, and conservation procedures to remove many decades of grime.
Now it has been revealed that the in-depth study of large-scale painting ‘Alchemy’ yielded a sensational breakthrough: experts have discovered that Pollock mapped out the painting in advance, using a structural plan to paint it. It had been previously believed that the composition – as with all of the artist’s paintings derived from this particular method – had been made up of random spatters and drops created by Pollock’s random artistic genius.
But the analysis has revealed delicate traces of white paint devising a sort of grid structure, which the artist had created as means of compositional guidance. Since last Saturday, the painting, which is thought to be one of Pollock’s earliest poured paintings, is back on display in Venice without any glass protection. This offers viewers an unprecedented insight into the Abstract Expressionist’s dense sculptural surface, made of layers of enamel, alkyd, oil paint, twine, sand, and pebbles, but now with a greater understanding of the artist’s practice.
Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement. The artist was renowned for his unique style of drip painting. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety, as a major artist of his generation. Regarded as reclusive, he had a volatile temperament, the artist struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1945, he married the artist Lee Krasner, who became an important influence on his career.
Pollock died at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related single-car accident when the the artist was behind the wheel.