“I got Jackson Pollock to paint a mural twenty-three feet wide and six feet high. Marcel Duchamp said he should put it on a canvas, otherwise it would have to be abandoned when I left the apartment.”
- Peggy Guggenheim, Out of This Century, (London: Andre Deutsch, 1979)
In 1943 Peggy Guggenheim, following her separation from the artist Max Ernst, moved into an apartment at 155 East 61st Street, New York. In July she commissioned Jackson Pollock to paint a mural-scale canvas for the first floor entrance of the building. The painting, which was to be the largest Pollock ever made, and which Peggy donated in 1948 to the University of Iowa Museum of Art, was completed by early November 1943. Some years later, Peggy was photographed together with Pollock, in front of the painting which was still installed in her house.
Mural stands at the hub of Pollock’s entire creative trajectory. Prior to it, Pollock had often embodied his preoccupation with energy and motion in single figures, such as the upright running presence in The Moon Woman (1942). Subsequently, the enormous variety of painterly mark-making found in Mural—from long arcing strokes and swirls to passages where Pollock flicked or speckled his pigment upon the canvas—would burgeon into the celebrated ‘pouring’ technique seen in Enchanted Forest (1947) and Alchemy (1947).