Thursday, October 12, 2006

Those Disputed Pollocks

Will go on view at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse next June "even if laboratory tests show that the works are fake." Cleveland Plain Dealer art critic Steven Litt has the story here. The works are often referred to as the "Matter Pollocks" (they were discovered by a New York filmmaker named Alex Matter in a Long Island storage space that had belonged to his father, Herbert Matter, who was a close friend of Pollock and who died in 1984). "The Straus Center for Art Conservation at Harvard University has said it soon will release the first physical analysis of the works, which include two dozen paintings and a dozen sketches and studies on paper. The analysis likely will show whether the materials used to make them existed during Pollock's lifetime. If they did, it wouldn't prove conclusively that the works are by Pollock.... However, if the examination shows the materials did not exist during Pollock's lifetime, it would prove that ... they're fakes." Litt quotes Everson's director as saying she decided to exhibit the works because "the rental fee for the exhibition was low - $40,000, plus $5,000 for shipping" and Matter agreed that the museum did not have to describe the works as Pollocks. A planned show at Guild Hall in East Hampton this past summer was reportedly cancelled because Matter insisted that the paintings could only be displayed as Pollocks.

Not unrelatedly, the Guardian reports today on new software developed by researchers at the University of Maastricht that may make it easier to spot forgeries: "Using high-resolution scans of paintings, the ... software builds up a library of characteristics, such as brushstrokes, colours and type of canvas used, that form a 'fingerprint' for a particular artist. A painting can then be compared against this fingerprint to help experts decide whether it is a fake."