Lot 36
  • 36

Jackson Pollock

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
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  • Jackson Pollock
  • Triad
  • signed and dated 48
  • oil and enamel on paper mounted on board
  • 20 5/8 by 25 7/8 in. 52.4 by 65.7 cm.


The artist 
Mary Wickware (acquired from the above)
Mr. and Mrs. N. Richard Miller, Stockton, New Jersey
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York (acquired from the above in January 1970)
Mr. and Mrs. N. Richard Miller, Stockton, New Jersey (acquired from the above)
Marlborough Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Milan
Mr. E.V. Thaw, New York
B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago 
Acquired by the present owner from the above in June 1986


Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Collects 20th Century, October - November 1963, p. 28, illustrated
Rome, Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, American Action Painting, April - May 1972 
New York, Grey Art Gallery and Study Center, Tracking the Marvelous, 1981, p. 24, illustrated and illustrated on the cover 
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Inc., XIX & XX Century: Master Drawings & Watercolors, April - May 1984, no. 31
New York, The Museum of Modern Art; and London, Tate Gallery, Jackson Pollock, November 1998 - June 1999, p. 254, no. 150, illustrated
Chicago, AEL Space; Naples, Center for the Arts; Charleston, Sunrise Museum; Montgomery, Montgomery Museum of Fine Art; Syracuse, Everson Museum of Art; Lubbock, Museum of Texas Tech University; Annapolis, Mitchell Art Gallery, St. John's College; Ottuma, Indian Hills Community College; and St. Paul, Minnesota Museum of Art, New York School and Beyond: Paintings from the Art Enterprises, Limited Collection, January 2001 - February 2003, no. 15 
Berlin, Deutsche Guggenheim; Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection; and New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, No Limits, Just Edges: Jackson Pollock Paintings on Paper, January 2005 - September 2006, p. 94, no. 50, illustrated in color
Boston, McMullen Museum, Boston College, Pollock Matters, September - December 2007, p. 32, no. 85, illustrated 
Paris, Pinacothèque de Paris, Pollock and Shamanism, October 2008 - February 2009, no. 87 
Chicago, National Museum of Mexican Art, Translating Revolution: U.S. Artists Interpret Mexican Muralists, January - August 2010
Flint, Flint Institute of Arts, Then and Now, May - August 2012


Partisan Review 15, no. 9, September 1948, illustrated on the inside front cover 
Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, Eds., Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works, Volume 2: Paintings 1948-1955, New Haven and London, 1978, p. 19, no. 198, illustrated 
Serge Guilbaut, How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War, Chicago, 1983, no. 20
Ellen G. Landau, Jackson Pollock, New York, 1989, p. 210, illustrated in color
Michael Leja, Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s, New Haven and London, 1993, p. 297, no. 79, illustrated
Patricia Failing, "Do the 'Matter Paintings' Matter?," ARTNews, November 2007, p. 144, illustrated


This work is in very good condition overall Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at +1 (212) 606-7254 for the report prepared by Terrence Mahon. The work is framed in a wood frame painted black and silver.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Jackson Pollock’s Triad from 1948 is significantly recognized as a critical touchstone that bridges the gap between the artist's more Surrealist-inspired paintings from the early 1940s and the iconic drip paintings from later that decade. In the present work, Pollock reimagines the revolutionary pouring method he pioneered in 1947, dripping the paint with the same gestural energy, but within the confines of a template, which produces the entirely unique composition of figures built up from splashes of paint. Testament to its significance in the evolution of Pollock’s artistic style, Triad resided in the collection of E. V. Thaw, the author of Pollock's catalogue raisonné, and has been included in numerous exhibitions in the world’s most renowned museums, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Tate Gallery, London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. In the present work, Pollock has inverted the traditional figure ground relationship, applying white paint to a black ground. Abstract in its calligraphic mesh, three merely discernible figures nevertheless emerge from what at first glance appears a tangle of white paint. The right hand figure could be one or two that are joined together; this shape is not as legible as the more anthropomorphic figure on the left, who could be interpreted as dashing off the edge of the painting. What is most striking about this painting, however, is how the figures, despite the frenzy of their composition, adhere to an invisible perimeter delineating their bodies. The gestural painting zig zags to build up form, yet the frenetic flicks and flings of paint stay within a circumscribing perimeter, the result of Pollock placing a stencil on the paper to control the flow of paint. As Michael Leja notes, “Regular and irregular, erratic gestures are controlled enough to serve the production of distinct, legible figures. The constitution of figures from drawn and patterned marks is, consequently, the principal subject of this work, although the problem of relating figure to ground has not been abandoned. The absence of an outline bounding the figures keeps the separation between figure and ground from completeness; the black ground permeates the interior of the bodies, anchoring them and subverting their autonomy. Still, the fact that line in this picture works exclusively to constitute figures and not produce simultaneously an encompassing field marks another variation in Pollock’s handling of figure- field relations.” (Michael Leja, Reframing Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s, New Haven and London, 1993, p. 296)

The implied stenciling evident in the clean edges of Triad’s figures relates the present work to a series of collage experiments Pollock pursued in 1948, in which he cut out figurative forms from a ground of poured painting, collaging them atop new works, a unique process that allowed Pollock to negotiate figure-field relationships in two distinct iterations. The sense of a cut out or stencil is unavoidable in Triad, the white paint reaching to but not past the unseen edges of a template, commingling with the black ground. Triad also embodies the way in which Pollock conflated drawing and painting, freeing line to become painterly in addition to describing figures, a crowning achievement he had reached in his practice with the advent of the pouring method. Bernice Rose notes that what came to separate Pollock’s painting and drawing, however superficially, was “the degree to which line describes figures,” a technique that is beautifully crystallized in the surface of Triad. (Bernice Rose, Jackson Pollock: Works on Paper, New York, 1969, p. 10) Pollock never distinguished between his drawings and paintings; rather, he valued both as direct and authentic methods of expressing his innermost nature, energy, and drive in his vital and iconic gesture.