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Jackson Pollock, Stenographic Figure, ca. 1942, oil on linen, 40 × 56". © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“The Figurative Pollock”

Kunstmuseum Basel

Jackson Pollock, Stenographic Figure, ca. 1942, oil on linen, 40 × 56". © Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“The Figurative Pollock,” organized by Nina Zimmer, was a pleasant surprise. For one thing, the large selection of early drawings and paintings on view would have made for a highly informative show in its own right; the exhibition featured major early paintings such as Stenographic Figure, ca. 1942; The Moon Woman, 1942; Guardians of the Secret, 1943; The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle, 1943; Totem Lesson 1, 1944; and Totem Lesson 2, 1945. All were effectively hung and looking amazingly fresh. Then there was a group of works from 1946–47 that culminated with the allover Constellation, 1946; Something of the Past, 1946; and Galaxy, 1947, which brought the exhibition to the verge of the great dripped and poured abstractions of the anni mirabiles 1947–50. Galaxy was especially interesting in this regard: Its surface is liberally spattered with individual flecks of cream-colored pigment,

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