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The first exhibition in more than 30 years to explore the artist’s lesser-known black pourings

Art historian Michael Fried wrote that Jackson Pollock was ‘on the verge of an entirely new and different kind of painting … of virtually limitless potential’, when he saw the artist’s Black Pourings. This body of work – created between 1951 and 53 – remains one of Pollock’s lesser-known, yet marks an important period in the artist’s practice.

After four years of creating vivid, colourful compositions, the Black Pourings were a radical departure from his signature style. Pollock had just been thrust into the spotlight following an explosive Time magazine spread which asked ‘Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?’, yet – far from revelling in his success – the artist fell deeper into depression and alcoholism.

Pollock had signed to a commercial gallery, and was struggling to deal with the mounting pressure of expectation. He made a deliberate decision to move away from the defining ‘drip’ technique that had brought him critical acclaim, instead experimenting with a new ‘pour’ in treacly black paint. The resulting canvases are distinctively macabre in feel.

As well as presenting this poignant series of work, Tate Liverpool is showing a selection of Pollock’s drawings and rarely-seen sculptures from the same period – just a few years before his tragic death.

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