Everson’s Pollock painting sells for $12M

Jackson Pollock’s “Red Composition, 1946,” sold for $12 million. Courtesy Everson Museum

SYRACUSE — The Board of Trustees of the Everson Museum of Art has voted unanimously to deaccession a painting by Jackson Pollock from the museum’s collection, in order to “refine, diversify and build its collection for the future. “

Christie’s Auction House will feature the work in its Evening Sale of 20th and 21st century art on Oct. 6.

The painting, “Red Composition, 1946,” was donated to the Museum in 1991 by Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman. Proceeds realized from the sale/auction will be used to establish a fund at Everson for acquiring works created by artists of color, women artists and other under-represented contemporary and mid-career artists.

Funds will also be used for the care of the museum’s collection of more than 10,000 pieces, in keeping with guidelines established by the American Alliance of Museums and the Regents of the State of New York.

Mr. Pollock,(1912-1956), was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. According to, jackson-pollock.org, he was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist, had a volatile personality and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. In 1956, Time magazine dubbed Mr. Pollock “Jack the Dripper” as a result his style of splattering his canvasses with paint.

“As a longtime board member and benefactor of the Everson, Marshall would have been extremely happy to see his gift used for the greater good of the museum, its future sustainability, and its impact on the community,” Robert Falter, trustee of the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Foundation, said in an Everson news release.

Since establishing a Collecting Priorities Plan in 2017, the Everson Museum of Art has used limited acquisition funds to focus on adding works by under-represented artists. The sale of the Pollock piece will enable the art museum to significantly intensify these efforts at a time when it is working to “address inequality within the institution itself and the community it serves,” according to the news release.

“The Everson aspires to be a leader in racial equity and anti-racist policies and programming,” said Jessica Arb Danial, board chairwoman of the Everson Art Museum. “Given the Everson’s important location within the physical and historical context of downtown Syracuse (401 Harrison St.), it is imperative that our work reflects the diverse voices of our communities. This decision signals a pivotal moment for our institution to drive much needed change to our collection.”

In June, the museum launched an equity task force comprised of Everson trustees and staff along with community stakeholders. The task force is developing “action items” around representation in all aspects of museum operations, including exhibitions and collections.

Acquisitions made possible by the sale are slated to begin in 2021 and will be announced with credit to the Dorothy and Marshall M. Reisman Fund. Several conservation measures will be undertaken, including the restoration of the iconic “Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3” by Henry Moore, which has graced the museum’s front podium since opening in 1968. The Everson will also improve its on-site storage, enabling more of the collection to be housed at the museum available for scholarly study and public viewing.

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