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Cotton Pickers

© Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Jackson Pollock

American, 1912-1956

Cotton Pickers, ca. 1935

oil on canvas

support: 24 x 30 inches (60.96 x 76.2 cm); framed: 25 5/8 x 31 5/8 x 1 3/4 inches (65.09 x 80.33 x 4.45 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

The Martha Jackson Collection at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1974

1974:8.29

More Details

Inscriptions

signature / lower right / Jackson Pollock

Provenance

WPA Federal Art Project;
Martha Jackson, New York;
estate of Martha Kellogg Jackson;
May 22, 1974, presented by David K. and Rebecca Reed Anderson from the Estate of Martha Jackson to the Martha Jackson Collection at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Paintings like this one were essential to making Jackson Pollock the artist he would become. Pollock's most important teacher during his years studying at the Art Students League in New York was the American Regionalist Thomas Hart Benton. Benton was a declared "enemy" of abstract modernist painting, but also a passionate advocate for Leftist political aims. His stylized, almost sculptural, figurative paintings endeavored to bring grandeur and gravitas to everyday American experience. Pollock would later credit his move to abstraction to Benton's outsized influence; "my work with Benton was very important as something against which to react very strongly, later on; in this, it was better to have worked with him than with a less resistant personality.”

Workers picking cotton in the Depression-era South was a subject both Benton and Pollock depicted with sensitivity in the 1930s. In Cotton Pickers, Pollock’s palette of earth tones implies a direct connection between the workers and the soil. During his early years living in New York, Pollock would return to his native California, often by hitchhiking or hopping on trains, and he sketched the passing towns and landscapes. It was likely a memory of one such journey that inspired Cotton Pickers.

Label from Overtime: The Art of Work, March 8–May 17, 2015

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