The palette is bold and vibrant. Executed in Pollock's unique style, the paint added to the paper from above by pouring and dripping, the painting possesses a power that is quite stunning, the subtle lines and swirls forming patches of colour and suggesting shapes that bear no relation to anything in the physical world.
The deep reds, coupled with the black, make powerful statements against the lighter background, touched with Pollock's yellows and hints of blue and green.
Number 12 was painted by Pollock to add to his third exhibition; this was staged at the Betty Parsons Gallery during November of 1949. This exhibition was to secure Pollack’s position as one of America's most famous artists.
The painting was exhibited the following year at the Venice Biennale and, together with other works, made an enormous impact upon the avant-garde movement and its development in Europe. This painting spurred the speculation through Europe that in Jackson Pollack, a worthy successor to Pablo Picasso had been identified.
1949 was a productive year for Pollack and he worked well outside of the bustle of New York. Relatively free of the ravages of alcoholism that were to plague him for much of his life, Pollock consolidated his talent and new technique of pouring and dripping paint instead of applying them with a brush.
Number 12 is a small painting, at least when compared to some of the very large pieces Pollack painted in 1948. The piece is only thirty one by twenty two and a half inches, but its power is not diminished by its size.
When last sold by auction by Christie’s, Number 12 realised a final hammer price of eleven million, six hundred and fifty five thousand, five hundred dollars.