No. 5, 1948 is a painting by Jackson Pollock, an American painter known for his contributions to the abstract expressionist movement. It was sold in May 2006 for $140 million, a new mark for highest ever price for a painting, not surpassed for the first time until April 2011.
The painting was created on fibreboard, also known as composition board, measuring 8’ x 4’. For the paint, Pollock chose to use liquid paints. More specifically, they were synthetic resin paints but are referred to as oil paints for classification of the work. Source [WikiPedia]
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- It’s a key work in the abstract expressionist movement.
In the wake of World War II, New York City artists like Pollock, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning began pushing the boundaries of their paintings in a direction that would be dubbed “Abstract Expressionism”. Pollock’s contribution was his drip paintings, of which No. 5, 1948 is his most famous.
- Pollock used a unique method to make his drips.
Rather than working from an easel, Pollock would place his canvas on the ground and pace around it, applying paint by dripping it from hardened brushes, sticks, and basting syringes. Pollock had only begun experimenting in this form the year before No. 5, 1948‘s creation, but his style soon became so signature he was dubbed “Jack the Dripper.”
- Pollock didn’t do any sketches or pre-planning for no. 5, 1948.
Pollock’s works were revolutionary on several levels. For centuries, artists had sketched out or test-run their large-scale paintings. But not Pollock, who was instead guided by emotion and intuition as he wove around his fiberboard base, dropping and flinging paint as his muse demanded.
- He used unconventional paints for no. 5, 1948.
An important element of the drip method was paint with a fluid viscosity that would allow for smooth pouring. This requirement meant traditional oil paints and watercolors were out. Instead, Pollock began experimenting with synthetic gloss enamel paints that were making old-school, oil-based house paints obsolete. Though this clever innovation was praised, Pollock shrugged it off as “a natural growth out of a need.”
- For a time, No. 5, 1948 was the world’s most expensive painting.
On June 18, 2006, Gustav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I sold for $135 million, making it the highest priced painting in the world. Less than five months later, No. 5, 1948 fetched $140 million. In 2011, this title was snatched by one of Paul Cézanne’s Card Players, with a price tag of $250 million.