Jackson Pollock, American, Magic Lantern, 1949, Oil, enamel, and carpet tacks on canvas; 108.9 x 55.2 cm (42 7/8 x 21 3/4 inches), Gift of Mrs. Peggy Guggenheim 54.005
Among Pollock’s earliest poured paintings, Magic Lantern reveals his tight control of a technique through which he covered a canvas with looping skeins of color. The free-form automatist drawings of the Surrealists inspired Pollock in his development of a personal language of abstraction. Improvising with gesture and materials, he used a variety of available paints to create the dense surface of this compact image and scattered it with carpet tacks to intensify its physicality. Unlike his later poured paintings, Magic Lantern has an intimate scale that encourages close examination.