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The legend goes like this: In 1943, Jackson Pollock—then far from a household name—was commissioned by art dealer Peggy Guggenheim to create a mural for her townhouse foyer. For over a month, Pollock stared at the blank canvas, wondering how he would fill something so colossal, he and his wife, the painter Lee Krasner, had been forced to dismantle one of their apartment walls just to fit it inside. Not until the night before Guggenheim’s deadline did Pollock, in a mad burst of inspiration, start and finish the entire piece, transforming the 160-foot-long canvas into a frenzy of teal, yellow, and black brushstrokes which he later described as “a stampede of every animal in the American West, cows and horses and antelopes and buffaloes. Everything is charging across that goddamn surface.”

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