Robert Motherwell: Early Colleages

The Peggy Guggenheim Collection presents a program of three ground breaking exhibitions that pay tribute to the brothers Jackson and Charles Pollock. As the world turns its attention to the 2015 Milan Expo—an important event not just for Milan but for all Italy—the Peggy Guggenheim Collection thanks the Intrapresæ Collezione Guggenheim for their support in making these exhibitions possible. The program offers a unique opportunity to view Abstract Expressionism from close to, including the European première of Jackson’s Mural (1943) following its conservation at the Getty Conservation Institute. This will be the first and perhaps the only time that Mural, the largest canvas Jackson ever painted, has come to Venice, where it will be the focus of the exhibition Jackson Pollock, Mural. Energy Made Visible, curated by Dr. David Anfam and organized by the University of Iowa Museum of Art (opening April 23). Before this, on February 14, Alchemy, another undisputed masterpiece by Jackson, returned home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, for the exhibition Alchemy by Jackson Pollock. Discovering the Artist at Work, curated by Luciano Pensabene Buemi and Roberto Bellucci. This documents more than a year of research and conservation in Florence’s Opificio delle Pietre Dure, where Alchemy underwent scientific examination and cleaning. The exhibition program is rounded out with the first full retrospective dedicated to the painting of Charles Pollock (1902–1988), Jackson’s oldest brother, also opening April 23, curtated by Philip Rylands and made possible by the Charles Pollock Archives, Paris.

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943. University of Iowa Museum of Art
Jackson Pollock at work, 1950. Photo Rudy Burckhardt
Charles Pollock, Fireworks, 1950 Charles Pollock Archives
Peggy Guggenheim and Jackson Pollock in front of Mural. Photo George Kargar
Charles Pollock Chapala 3, 1956. Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Jackson and Charles Pollock, New York 1930
Alchemy at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure Florence. Photo Opificio delle Pietre Dure

Three exhibitions, three curatorial concepts, three outstanding experiences that trace their historical roots to New York, where Peggy Guggenheim operated her museum-gallery Art of This Century from 1942-47. There she exhibited artists who would come to belong to the New York School, known also as the American Abstract Expressionists. It was during this time that Guggenheim recognised the genius of Jackson Pollock. She supported him financially and promoted his work, which was significantly to influence trends of new American and International art, and the course of the 20th century art history generally. In 1943, for her New York apartment, Guggenheim commissioned Jackson to paint the outsize Mural, which she donated to the University of Iowa when she left New York at the end of the decade. In 1947, Jackson developed the technique of poured paintings for which he is now so celebrated and which shocked collectors and critics with its blatant rejection of the traditional artistic canon. Alchemy is one of the earliest examples of this. When Guggenheim moved to Venice at the end of the 1940s, she took with her Jackson’s paintings, aware that she was bringing to Europe a new, revolutionary kind of art. She continued to promote his work, making gifts to European and American museums and organizing in 1950 his first European solo exhibition. Charles Pollock, a mentor for Jackson in his early years, began his career studying with Thomas Hart Benton and painting ‘Regionalist’ subjects in Benton’s manner. In the 1940s, Charles converted to abstraction and from the mid 1950s painted superb gestural and color-field abstractions.

This program is made possible thanks to the support of Private Bank BSI, Enel, with the patronage of the US Diplomatic Mission to Italy and the support of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York. Educational projects surrounding the program are supported by the Fondazione Araldi Guinetti, Vaduz.