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Dallas Museum of Art to Present Largest Exhibition of Jackson Pollock’s Black Paintings Ever Assembled

May 30, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

On November 20, the Dallas Museum of Art will present what experts have deemed a “once in a lifetime” exhibition, organized by the DMA’s Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art Gavin Delahunty: the largest survey of Jackson Pollock’s black paintings ever assembled. This exceptional presentation will include many works that have not been exhibited for more than 50 years, and several which were considered missing. Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots offers critical new scholarship on this understudied yet pivotal period in the artist’s career and provides radical new insights into Pollock’s practice. The exhibition at the DMA will serve as the exclusive U.S. presentation and will remain on view through March 20, 2016.488875_num1076322_600x600

Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots is among the first major initiatives to be curated by Delahunty at the DMA since he joined the Museum in May 2014. The exhibition is co-organized with Tate Liverpool, where Delahunty previously served as Head of Exhibitions and Displays. Tate Liverpool will open their version of the exhibition in June, with the DMA serving as the only venue outside of Europe to present these masterworks.

Delahunty is one of four contributors to a fully illustrated catalogue that will accompany the exhibition and explore the relative exclusion of the black paintings from Pollock’s exhibition history as well as the impact of the paintings on subsequent generations of artists.

The exhibition will first introduce audiences to Pollock’s work via a selection of his well-known drip paintings made between 1947 and 1949, including No. 2, a work from the Harvard Art Museums’ collection that has not traveled in over 20 years. These works will serve to contextualize the radical departure represented by the black paintings, a series of black enamel and oil paintings on originally untreated canvas that Pollock created between 1951 and 1953. An unprecedented 28 black paintings will be included in the DMA presentation, nearly twice as many as the next largest survey of these works (which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967).

“Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots expands the Museum’s growing scholarship on modern and contemporary art by illuminating a crucial period in the career of one of the most influential and provocative artists of the 20th century,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “From a scholarly and educational perspective, this groundbreaking exhibition is one of the most significant ever presented in DMA history. We are excited to bring to new audiences this important and under-examined aspect of Pollock’s work, and look forward to sharing Gavin’s extraordinary and forward-looking vision for our curatorial program with the public.”

“While several of Jackson Pollock’s contemporaries combined black and white, his black paintings were exceptional in their absolute merging of color and surface, which went over and above what Pollock himself had previously achieved; this is a crucial difference for many contemporary artists revisiting Pollock’s work today,” said Delahunty. “This exhibition will invite visitors to rediscover this critical moment in Pollock’s artistic development, and inform a greater understanding of the artist’s distinctive trajectory.”

Also featured in the exhibition are several works on paper made by Pollock during the same period as the black paintings. Made with enamel and ink and watercolor, the works on paper are considered by scholars to be the artist’s most important as a draftsman. The exhibition will also feature five of Pollock’s existing six sculptures, which provide a true three-dimensional experience of his well-known painting approach. Together with the 34 paintings on view, these works immersive audiences in Pollock’s complete oeuvre and shed new light on the experimentation and ingenuity that has become synonymous with his practice.

While Jackson Pollock’s leading role in the abstract expressionist movement has been widely discussed, less attention has been devoted to his black paintings period. In describing this pivotal phase in Pollock’s artistic trajectory, the critic and historian Michael Fried remarked that “[Pollock is] on the verge of an entirely new and different kind of painting . . . of virtually limitless potential.” The black paintings assembled for the exhibition will include significant loans from U.S., Asian, and European collections, as well as important works drawn from the collections of the DMA and Tate.

“Pollock’s extraordinary, still controversial black paintings of 1951 finally get the attention they deserve; they prove to be just as radical as his earlier, more celebrated all-over drip paintings, and speak even more to our own time as well,” said John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture, Museum of Modern Art.

Exhibition Organization and Tour:
Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots has been developed in collaboration with the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.

The exhibition is co-organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and Tate Liverpool. The exhibition is curated by Gavin Delahunty, Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Dallas Museum of Art (formerly Head of Exhibitions and Displays at Tate Liverpool), with Stephanie Straine, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool. The presentation in Dallas is made possible by TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art, an annual fundraising event that jointly benefits amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art, and by the Contemporary Art Initiative. Additional support provided by The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Inc.

The exhibition tour includes:
Tate Liverpool: June 30–October 18, 2015
Dallas Museum of Art: November 20, 2015–March 20, 2016

Exhibition Catalogue:
A scholarly and wide-ranging publication will accompany the exhibition with contributions by Gavin Delahunty, Dallas Museum of Art; Michael Fried, J. R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities and the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University; Stephanie Straine, Tate Liverpool; and Jo Applin, Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Art, University of York.

Delahunty’s essay examines the relative exclusion of the black paintings in Pollock’s exhibition history; their relationship to the black and white painting that had only gotten underway in the U.S. in the late 1940s (Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, and Franz Kline); and the evolution of all-black painting around and after Pollock’s 1951 exhibition at Betty Parsons. Michael Fried re-visits his seminal 1965 essay for Artforum, where he championed the black paintings. Stephanie Straine explores Pollock’s use of paper as a ground for a complex variety of work, and Jo Applin interprets Pollock’s lifelong fascination with sculpture.

In addition the publication will include over sixty full-color plates, an artist chronology, a black painting chronology, an exhibition checklist, and a number of, as yet, unpublished photographs by Hans Namuth of the black paintings.

About the Dallas Museum of Art

Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is among the 10 largest art museums in the country and is distinguished by its commitment to research, innovation, and public engagement. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 23,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the nation’s largest arts district, the Museum welcomes over 650,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country, which currently has over 100,000 members. For more information, visit

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported, in part, by the generosity of DMA Partners and donors, the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

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