Jackson Pollock

c. 1939–1942

Not on view

c. 1939–1942


Colored pencil and graphite pencil on paper

Sheet: 14 × 11in. (35.6 × 27.9 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Julia B. Engel Purchase Fund and the Drawing Committee

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


This untitled drawing evokes the Native American iconography that had interested Jackson Pollock since childhood and likely influenced his work of the late 1930s and early 1940s. His images from this period conjure mythological archetypes and totemic figures, such as the coiled snake and beastly creature sitting before the fire. The work also reveals the influence of Surrealism; Pollock had become acquainted with a number of the Surrealists who had fled Europe for New York during World War II. He was attracted to Surrealism’s model of psychic automatism, which favored spontaneous expression as a means of manifesting the unconscious, a process the artist was also exploring in Jungian analysis. Here, his lines appear quickly executed, even crude, his application of color intuitive, and his process equal parts improvisation and design. Pollock continued to work in the mode of this drawing, his totemic figures becoming increasingly fragmented and interlocked, until 1947, when he produced his first “drip” painting.