Jackson Pollock

Yellow Islands


Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1435 x 1854 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery (purchased out of funds provided by Mr and Mrs H.J. Heinz II and H.J. Heinz Co. Ltd) 1961

Display caption

‘When I am painting I am not much aware of what is taking place’, Pollock said in 1947. By dripping and pouring paint, he was able to work in a free and intuitive way, his thoughts and feelings finding direct expression in the rhythmic patterns he created. Pollock began this painting by pouring black paint onto the canvas, over which he added areas of yellow and crimson with a brush. He then lifted the canvas upright while the paint was still wet, allowing it to sag and run.

Gallery label, July 2012

Catalogue entry

Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

T00436 Yellow Islands 1952

Inscribed '52 | Jackson Pollock' b.r. and 'Jackson Pollock 1952' on stretcher
Oil on canvas, 56 1/2 x 72 (143.5 x 190.5)
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery (purchased out of funds provided by Mr and Mrs H.J. Heinz II and the H.J. Heinz Co., Ltd.) 1961
Prov: Purchased by the Friends of the Tate Gallery from the artist's estate through Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1961
Exh: 7 Americans, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, September-October 1956 (no catalogue); Jackson Pollock, Marlborough Fine Art, London, June 1961 (62, repr.)
Lit: Francis Valentine O'Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works (New Haven-London 1978), No.365, Vol.2, p.192 repr.
Repr: Connoisseur, CXLVIII, 1961, p.315; The Tate Gallery (London 1969), p.179 in colour

The various stages involved in the execution of this work have been analysed by Lawrence Alloway as follows (in the catalogue of the 1961 Marlborough Fine Art exhibition): 'The painting began with black paint being poured onto the canvas on the ground, which gave a burr-edged, all-directional paint trail, characteristic of many of the black paintings. Over this Pollock distributed blocks of yellow and crimson paint, with spots of other colours. Then the painting was stood upright and black paint applied and allowed to trickle over the painting ... The interplay of paint applied to a horizontal and paint applied to an upright surface is a remarkable development out of the drip paintings poured onto a wholly horizontal surface.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.617-18, reproduced p.617

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