Stretching nearly twenty feet wide by eight feet high, Mural (1943) is the largest painting Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) ever made, and it proved a breakthrough for the artist. Across the painting’s dense and vibrant surface, Pollock’s bold brushstrokes appear to dance rhythmically. Today, Mural is recognized as one of the pivotal achievements of Pollock’s career, the moment when he left figuration behind, expanded the scale of his work, and started to develop his signature drip technique. “I took one look at it,” the critic Clement Greenberg later said, “and I knew Jackson was the greatest painter this country had produced.”
At the MFA, Mural is presented alongside a newly commissioned work by German painter Katharina Grosse (b. 1961). Known for her large-scale site-related installations, Grosse is one of the most important painters of her generation. Since the late 1990s, she has used an industrial paint-sprayer to apply prismatic swaths of color to a variety of surfaces, eroding the distinction between two and three dimensions to create immersive visual experiences.
The unprecedented pairing of Pollock and Grosse’s work demonstrates how the artists have each transformed painting through their innovative techniques and approaches to color on a massive scale.