Recently conserved with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
An iconic figure of postwar painting in New York, Jackson Pollock produced this work when he returned to a form of abstracted figuration after creating his completely nonrepresentational drip paintings in the late 1940s. In works like Sleeping Effort Pollock synthesized the expressive handling of his drip paintings with the psychological interests of his work from earlier in the 1940s. He was influenced by the theories of Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung and Surrealist notions of the human unconscious, both of which focus on dreams and desires as conduits to the psyche. Sleeping Effort itself suggests a dreamlike state: a reclining figure in the foreground is surrounded by unidentifiable imagery floating in an amorphous blue background. Built up into a thick impasto of rich colors, Pollock’s brushwork is typical of Abstract Expressionist gestural painting, in which visible brushstrokes are seen as physical traces of the creative act.