The National Museum of Western Art

update 31 July 2018

on display Permanent Collection

Jackson Pollock [Cody, 1912 - New York, 1956]

Number 8, 1951 "Black Flowing"

Materials/Techniquesenamel on cotton canvas
Size (cm)140 x 185
InscriptionsSigned and dated lower right in charcoal: Jackson Pollock 51
Credit LineDonated by Yamamura Family
Standard ref.O'Conne/Thaw 327
Collection NumberP.1965-0008
Number 8, 1951 "Black Flowing"

Between 1951 and 1952, Jackson Pollock created a number of monochrome works that employ dripped black enamel on blank canvas. The works in the "Black and White" series were greeted with great surprise and discouragement when they were displayed for the first time in November 1951 in Pollock's one-man show at the Betty Parsons Gallery. His previous drippings abstract paintings, with their colors covering the entire surface, were transformed into paintings that were solely black in color, with some return of representational motifs. In this work there appears to be some sort of four-legged creature visible. While experiments have been made with the interpretation of the symbolism of these forms as some sort of "hidden image," it does not necessarily mean that they can be interpreted as specific objects. Some critics raise the theory that Pollock's dejection at the fact the only work sold at his one-man show the previous year was bought by a friend, combined with his alcoholism, led to his change to black forms during this period. There is another theory that he was hesitant about the new ground he opened with his pourings, and that in these paintings Pollock was turning towards representational things in the face of unease about descending into stylization and atrophy. It has also been suggested that the "Black and White" series was his contribution to a specific project, Tony Smith's church. However, what is more important than a search for the causative, what floats in the background of this massive change by Pollock, which can be considered an extinction of his earlier works, is connected to his awareness of issues. Pollock questioned the dualist argument of the figurative or the anti-figurative, and that applied to his pourings paintings. Examples can be found in the Ohara Museum of Art's Cut Out, 1948-50 and Stuttgart's Out of the Web: Number 7, 1949. The "Black and White" series can be also considered an extension of Pollock's search for the dualistic, and should be seen as the heightening of the figurative within his methods. (Source: Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, cat. no.122)


Betty Parsons Gallery; Michel Tapié, Paris; Comte Philippe Dotremont, Brussels; Donated by Haru & Takutaro Yamamura, Nishinomiya.

Exhibition History

Jackson Pollock, Studio Paul Facchetti, Paris, 7 March 1952 - 31 March 1952
Tendances actuelles III, Kunsthalle Bern, 29 January 1955 - 6 March 1955, no. 61.
Rome-New York Art Foundation, Rome: The Foundation, 1957 - 1957, n. p.
Otro arte, Barcelona, 1957 - 1957
Drawings Jackson Pollock: Loan Exhibition from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Shoto Museum of Art, 20 August 1985 - 29 September 1985, Fukuoka Art Museum, 8 October - 27 October 1985,
, The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, 5 October 1986 - 14 December 1986
American Art since 1945, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, 17 April 1988 - 5 June 1988, cat. no. 8, col. repr.
Les Années 50, Centre Georges Pompidou, 30 June 1988 - 5 October 1988
Gendai Bijyutsu no Souzousha tachi: Showa 20nendai no Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Tottori Prefectural Museum, Tottori, 10 October 1989 - 9 November 1989, cat. no. 15
Abstract Expressionism: Masterpieces from Japanese Collections, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 11 March 1995 - 4 June 1995
Expressiveness of Materials, National Museum of Art, Osaka, 17 April 1997 - 22 June 1997, cat. no. 86
Visage: Painting and the Human Face in 20th-Century Art, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 12 January 2000 - 13 February 2000, cat. no. 89
The Unfinished Century : Legacies of 20th Century Art, The Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 16 January 2002 - 10 March 2002, cat. no. 260, col. repr.
Jackson Pollock: A Centennial Retrospective, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, 11 November 2011 - 22 January 2012, cat. no. 51, repr., The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 10 February 2012 - 6 May 2012
Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, Tate Liverpool, 30 June 2015 - 18 October 2015, p. 37, col. repr.
The Figurative Pollock, Kunstmuseum Basel, 2 October 2016 - 22 January 2017, cat. no. 94, col. repr.


Porter, F. Jackson Pollock. Art News. vol. 50, no. 8, December 1951 , p. 48, repr. (with the title "Number 8. 1951")
Hess, Thomas B. U. S. painting: some recent directions. Art News Annual. no. 26, 1956, p. 76.
Schmidt, Georg. Mesures et valeurs de l'art moderne. Quadrum. no. 8, 1960, p. 9, repr. (with the title "Coulée Noires")
Annual bulletin of the National Museum of Western Art. No. 1, 1967, Catalogue of the New Acquisitions. pp. 40-41, no. P-350. repr.
Gutiérrez, F. G. Influencias mutuas entre el arte japonés y el occidental. Goya. July-August 1971, p. 23, repr.
Les cent chefs-d'œuvre du Musée National d'Art Occidental. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1971 (Japanese), no. 65, repr.
Les cent chefs-d'œuvre du Musée National d'Art Occidental. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1975 (Japanese), no. 81, repr.
O'Conner, Francis Valentine; Thaw, Eugene Victor, eds. Jackson Pollock: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Drawings and Other Works. vol. 2, New Haven/London, Yale University Press, 1978, no. 327, repr.
Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1978 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 85, repr.
The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo: Catalogue of paintings. Tokyo, The National Museum of Western Art, 1979, no. 225, repr.
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 124, col. repr.
Masterpieces: The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo. Tokyo, The Western Art Foundation, 2013 (Japanese, preface in Japanese and English), no. 125, col. repr.

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