Jun 25, 2020 - Sale 2539

Sale 2539 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 14,062
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 20,000
Untitled (Head).

Bronze, circa 1930-33 (cast 1963). 110x80x70 mm; 4 1/2x2 7/8x2 3/4 inches. With the incised edition number 5/7, verso. Cast by Reuben Kadish, 1963, with the knowledge of Lee Krasner.

Pollock (1912-1956) made approximately only 12 sculptures during his career of which only 6 are extant. Yet, while his output was relatively small and doesn't resemble a cohesive body of work, it was one of his early artistic passions and he would return to it throughout his life. His studies started when he took a clay modeling class in high school. When he moved to New York in 1930, he continued his sculpture studies under Ahron Ben-Shmuel where he practiced direct carving. He also studied under the modernist figural sculptor Robert Laurent at the Arts Students League.

While Pollock's canvases define him as an artist, during his early years in New York he was preoccupied with sculpture and even wrote his family in 1933 stating so. The current work was cast in bronze after his first sculpture, Untitled. It was completed circa 1930-33 and carved from a piece of black basalt into a mask-like head and made when Pollock was working with Ben-Shmuel. The small edition of bronzes was cast in 1963 after Pollock's death, by his friend and fellow artist Kadish (1913-1992), but it represents his nascent career as an artist.

The overarching theme of Pollock's career was challenging the tradition and stagnancy present in modern painting. He took a long break from sculpture in the 1940s, after which he became one of the most famous Abstract Expressionist artists in America. It wasn't until he and his wife, the artist Lee Krasner, moved to the Springs, East Hampton, Long Island, in 1945 that he had the space to again take up sculpting. He started creating sculptures out of found objects on the beach (including natural objects such as twigs and sand), and many of these ephermeral sculptures are now lost. Sculpture also preoccupied him in the time leading up to his death—he was working with the artist Tony Smith (1912-1980) on three-dimensional works in July 1956, shortly before his fatal car accident.