The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is closed until further notice.
In this transitional work of 1946 the subtle persistence of the Cubist grid system is felt in the panels that organize the composition and orient major pictorial details in vertical or horizontal positions. However, Jackson Pollock’s dependence on Pablo Picasso has virtually dissolved, giving way to a more automatic, fluidly expressive style. Line loses its descriptive function and begins to assume a self-sufficient role, the rhythm, duration, and direction of each brushstroke responding to the artist’s instinctual gesture. The compositional focus is multiplied and decentralized, and areas of intense activity fill the entire surface. Primitive art forms are alluded to in the crudely drawn arrows, cult and stick figures, and ornamental markings discernable in Circumcision. Totemic figures are posed stiffly, observing what seems to be a scene of violence in the center of the canvas. The enactment of a rite of passage is suggested, but the visual evidence does not encourage a specific reading.