This is one of three wall-size paintings that Jackson Pollock made in the summer and autumn of 1950. He began by laying canvas on the floor and pouring, dribbling, and flicking enamel paint onto the surface, sometimes straight from the can or with sticks and stiffened brushes. He put holes in the bottom of paint cans, squeezed paint from a tube, and even used a turkey baster or stiff brush. The density of interlacing liquid threads of paint is balanced and offset by puddles of muted colors and byallover spattering. The pictorial result of this tension is a landmark in the history of Abstract Expressionism.
As he did for all his “drip” paintings, Pollock painted this work from above, with the canvas lying flat on the floor. “On the floor I am more at ease,” he said. “I feel nearer, more a part of the painting since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.” Begun approximately three years after his first work in this style, One: Number 31, 1950 is evidence of the artist’s technical prowess. Calligraphic, looping cords of color animate and energize every inch of the composition, which seems to expand visually despite its enormous size.