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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
© 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
American, 1912 - 1956
Untitled [O'Connor-Thaw 770]
c. 1946–47
Brown ink on paper

8 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Caroline Wiess Law

Arts of North America

This untitled drawing is from a suite of nine sketchbook drawings that established Jackson Pollock as one of the great draftsmen of the 20th century. Based on style, the sketchbook dates to about 1946 or 1947, not long before Pollock’s breakthrough into the dripped-and-poured style of his mature period.

Pollock did not possess a natural ability for representational drawing, but these images, created after Old Master paintings, reveal a brilliant grasp of compositional analysis. Collectively, they are a summation of Pollock’s early influences, especially Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and the Surrealists. A visual declaration of independence, they reveal how Pollock not only absorbed the styles of these early European modernists but also forged ahead to create his own pictorial vocabulary.

A Suite of Notebook Drawings introduces a new type of draftsmanship emphasizing the immediacy of the artist’s gesture, a fundamental component of Pollock’s aesthetic. As Pollock never made preparatory drawings for his paintings, these images stand as independent works and are often referred to by their catalogue raisonné numbers. Here, "O'Connor-Thaw" is a reference to Francis Valentine O’Connor and Eugene Victor Thaw, who wrote the catalogue raisonné—the comprehensive catalogue of paintings, drawings, and other works—of Pollock’s career. The energy with which these drawings pulsate also signals a new era in art history as the center of the art world shifted from Paris to New York City.