Pollock - "Two"


Since June 2013, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (PGC) has been active in the study of the techniques and constitutive materials of Jackson Pollock’s eleven paintings held in the collection. The works date between 1942 and 1947. In 1943 Peggy Guggenheim first recognized Pollock’s talent, and offered him a contract with her New York gallery Art of this Century. These are works of particular importance in his oeuvre, because they show the transition from a relatively traditional abstract language, to the dripping or pouring technique – namely, the dribbling of paint onto a canvas placed on the floor - which constitutes Pollock’s revolutionary contribution.

Pollock began working on "Two" in 1943, but only concluded it in 1945 on the occasion of his second solo show at Peggy Guggenheim’s New York gallery, Art of This Century. The two figures visible on the canvas reveal the stylistic influence of both Picasso and Native American tribal painting. Two is one of Pollock’s last “figurative” works, which allows us to discern the cultural references that led him towards a subsequent stage of abstraction.


As part of the Pollock Project, Two was restored by Luciano Pensabene Buemi, conservator of the Collection, with the scientific input of the laboratories at the Opificio delle Pietre, and the INO of the Istituto CNR Nazionale di Ottica in Florence. Preliminary investigations were fundamental in devising the conservation and cleaning methods. The removal of dust and inconsistent deposits revealed how Pollock not only portrayed two figures, but how he applied colors in “couples:” two whites, two greens, two blacks, two greys, dark orange-pink, each of a warmer and a cooler shade.

Two’s cleaning employed sophisticated water based chemical systems (chemical gels) developed by CSGI in the frame of NANORESTART. The chemical gels that were used belong to a specific category constituted by two mutually interpenetrative polymers, which are 90% made of water. They do not leave any residue on the artwork, and allow a fast and controlled cleaning process (minimizing contact with the pictorial surface, and the color of the solvent), safe for both the artwork and the conservators, being entirely nontoxic and respectful of the environment. These systems constitute the most advanced technologies available today for the cleaning of paintings.

The rediscovery of Two’s chromatic richness, with the tonal alternations between its color couples, was on view during the exhibition "From Kandinsky to Pollock. The Art of the Guggenheim Collections", held at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, 19 March – 24 July 2016.



Further information about the "Pollock Project" can be found on the Peggy Guggenheim Collection website.

More information about the conservation of the painting "Two" can be found in this official press release (download). Please note that the text is in Italian.

(Text adapted from the original web page of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection webesite.)