Four Arts exhibition presents first pairing of Charles and Jackson Pollock artwork

Jodie Wagner   | Palm Beach Daily News

One of the most influential painters of the 20th century and his lesser-known brother are the subjects of a one-of-a-kind exhibition at The Society of the Four Arts. Click Here for more information

The artwork of Jackson Pollock, who was a major figure in the post-World War II abstract expressionist movement, and his eldest brother, Charles, have been paired for the first time in “Charles and Jackson Pollock,” which runs through March 28 at The Esther B. O’Keeffe Building.

The exhibition showcases more than 70 works by Charles Pollock, a prolific painter whose works span the social realism and abstract expressionism movements, and 25 by Jackson, who gained fame in the 1940s with his gestural drip paintings.

“This is the first time that Jackson and Charles have been shown together,” said Philip Rylands, president and chief executive officer of The Society of the Four Arts and co-curator of the Pollock exhibition along with art gallery owner Otto Hübner. “Their careers didn’t intertwine at all.”

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The exhibition includes paintings, drawings and prints, as well as two four-legged stools used by Jackson Pollock as he produced his works; two photomurals of Jackson at work by famed art photographer Hans Namuth; and one photomural of Charles taken by wife, Sylvia.

It also includes timelines of the artists’ lives and a film about Jackson produced by the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton, New York.

Jackson Pollock died at age 44 in 1956, and Charles Pollock died in 1988 at age 85.

“This is not a pre-packaged, traveling show,” said Rebecca A. Dunham, Four Arts’ head of fine arts and curator. “It’s a unique audience experience.”

While Jackson Pollock was considered one of the most important painters of his lifetime, Charles Pollock was gifted in his own right as an artist, Rylands said.

A longtime art professor at Michigan State University who also worked as a political cartoonist, his artwork is displayed in museums, galleries and public buildings around the world.

Like his brother, he was part of the abstract expressionist movement, but his work was more organized, Dunham said. 

“Charles’ work is more structured, based on the mark rather than the gesture, and came to have affinities with ‘color field’ painting,” Dunham said. “It’s more contemplated, where Jackson’s work is more about whatever was flowing creatively out of him at that moment. Charles had a different mode of operation, a different way of creating abstract work.”

The “Charles and Jackson Pollock” exhibition took about seven months to put together, Rylands said, and pieces were obtained from Germany, New York and several other places.

The exhibition opened in January, and response has been good, Rylands said.

“People have admired the paintings by Charles Pollock,” he said. “Jackson Pollock affected the course of 20th century art history, whereas Charles, very professionally and elegantly, accompanies the course of 20th century American art history.”

The exhibition, which is underwritten by members of the Four Arts’ Pollock Leadership Committee and the Cornelia T. Bailey Foundation, is on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tuesdays are reserved for Four Arts members from 1 to 5 p.m.

Admission is $10, with no charge for members and children 14 and young. Instructions on how to access a self-guided tour of the exhibition are available in the gallery. 

A 29-minute virtual exhibition tour led by Rylands can be accessed online.

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