Greyed Rainbow

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Jackson Pollock
American, 1912–1956

Greyed Rainbow, 1953

Oil on linen
182.9 x 244.2 cm (72 x 96 1/8 in.), unframed
Signed and dated: recto: "Jackson Pollock 53" (bottom right in black paint); verso: "Jackson Pollock / 53" (upper left in black paint)
Gift of Society for Contemporary American Art, 1955.494

© 2014 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In the late 1940s, Jackson Pollock developed a revolutionary form of Abstract Expressionism by dripping, pouring, and splashing paint onto large-scale canvases. Emphasizing the expressive power of the artist’s gestures, materials, and tools, Pollock often applied paint with sticks, trowels, and palette knives instead of brushes. With no apparent beginning or end, top or bottom, his works imply an extension of his art beyond the edges of the canvas. Among the last great purely abstract paintings Pollock made before his untimely death, and a quintessential example of action painting, Greyed Rainbow is predominantly black, white, gray, and silver; in the bottom third of the canvas, however, the artist thinly concealed orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The title presumably refers to these grayed sections of hidden color.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, “Jackson Pollock: New Oils,” February 1–27, 1954, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, “61st American Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture,” October 21–December 5, 1954, cat. 122, as “Grayed Rainbow.”

Art Institute of Chicago, “15th Annual Society for Contemporary American Art Exhibition,” April 27–May 30, 1955, no cat.

Art Institute of Chicago, “26th Annual Society for Contemporary American Art Exhibition,” April 8–May 10, 1966, no cat.

Publication History

Robert Coates, “Review,” “New Yorker” (February 20, 1954), pp. 81–82.

James Fitzsimmons, “Art,” “Arts and Architecture” 71, 3 (March 1954), pp. 7, 30.

Thomas B. Hess, “Jackson Pollock,” “ARTnews” 53, 1 (March 1954), p. 40.

“Annual Report 1954–1955” (Art Institute of Chicago, 1955), n.pag.

“Commentari,” 3 (July–September 1955), fig. 8 (inverted ill.).

Rudolph Arnheim, “Accident and the Necessity of Art,” “Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism” 16, 1 (September 1957), fig. 4 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

Frank O’Hara, “Jackson Pollock,” Great American Artists (George Braziller, 1959), pl. 81 (ill.).

Bryan Robertson, “Jackson Pollock” (Harry N. Abrams, 1960), p. 96, pl. 167 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

“Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago” (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), pp. 359, as “Grayed Rainbow,” 391 (ill.).

David M. Robb and J. J. Garrison, “Art in the Western World,” 4th ed. (Harper and Row, 1963), pp. 635–36, 637, fig. 545 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

Faber Birren, “History of Color in Painting” (Reinhold Publishing, 1965), p. 360, pl. 15-20 (ill.).

René Huyghe, ed., “Larousse Encyclopedia of Modern Art” (Prometheus Press, 1965), fig. 816 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

“Instituto de Arte de Chicago,” El mundo de los museos (Madrid: Editorial Codex, 1967), pp. 16 (ill.), 84–85 (color ill.).

Francis V. O’Connor, “Jackson Pollock,” exh. cat. (Museum of Modern Art, 1967), p. 69, as “Grayed Rainbow.”

"72nd American Exhibition," exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1976), fig. A (ill.), as "Grayed Rainbow."

William Rubin, “Jackson Pollock and the Modern Tradition, Part II,” “Artforum” 5, 7 (March 1967), pp. 30–31 (ill.), repr. in Pepe Karmel, ed., “Jackson Pollock: Interviews, Articles and Reviews” (Museum of Modern Art/Harry N. Abrams, 1999), p. 137.

B. H. Friedman, “Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible” (McGraw-Hill, 1972), p. 206, as “Grayed Rainbow.”

“Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago” 70, 1 (January/February 1976), p. 18 (ill.).

Francis V. O’Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, eds., “Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings, and Other Works” (Yale University Press, 1978), vol. 1, pl. 42 (color ill.); vol. 2, cat. 370 (ill.).

Franz Schulze, “Society for Contemporary Art: 1940-1980” (Art Institute of Chicago/Congress Printing Company, 1980), frontispiece (color ill., detail), pp. 26, 35–36, 50 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

“Jackson Pollock,” exh. cat. (Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, 1982), pp. 206–207 (color ill.), 303–04 (photo).

Simon Wilson, “Review: Jackson Pollock at the Beauborg,” “Burlington Magazine” 124, 950 (May 1982), p. 321.

George H. Roeder, Jr., “What Have Modernists Looked At? Experiential Roots of Twentieth-Century American Painting,” “American Quarterly” 39, 1 (Spring 1987), p. 77 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

James N. Wood and Katharine C. Lee, “Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago” (Art Institute of Chicago/New York Graphic Society Books and Little, Brown and Company, 1988), p. 149 (color ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow”; 2nd ed., James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills Press, 1999), p. 149 (color ill.).

Ellen G. Landau, “Jackson Pollock” (Harry N. Abrams, 1989), pp. 223, 230 (color ill.).

Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga” (Clarkson N. Potter/Crown Publishers, 1989), pp. 716, 731.

Claude Cernuschi, “Jackson Pollock: Meaning and Significance” (Icon Editions, 1992), pp. 194–95, 200, fig. 82 (ill.).

Susanne Rother, “Der Regenbogen: eine malereigeschichtliche Studie” (Böhlau, 1992), p. 130, fig. 35 (color ill.).

James N. Wood, “Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago (Abbeville Press, 1993), p. 302 (color ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

Jonathan Fineberg, “Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being” (Prentice Hall, 1995), p. 98, as “Grayed Rainbow”; 2nd ed. (Harry N. Abrams, 2000), p. 98, as “Grayed Rainbow.”

Larry Smolucha, “The Visual Arts Companion” (Prentice Hall, 1996), fig. 1.8 (ill.).

James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein, “The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture” (Hudson Hills Press, 1996), p. 103 (color ill.).

“Pollock, 1912–1956,” Découvrons l’art. XXe siècle (Cercle d’art, 1997), frontispiece (color ill.).

James Elkins, “Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis” (Stanford University Press, 1999), pp. 13, 15, fig. 5 (ill.), as “Grayed Rainbow.”

“Society for Contemporary Art: 1940–2000, 60th Anniversary” (Society for Contemporary Art/JNL Graphic Design, 2000), p. 4, as “Grayed Rainbow,” pp. 82–83 (color ill.).

James T. Valliere, “Interview with Clement Greenberg,” March 20, 1968, printed in Helen A. Harrison, ed., “Such Desperate Joy: Imagining Jackson Pollock” (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2000), p. 255.

Ownership History

Sold, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, to the Art Institute, 1955.