A real conflict between experts in art and science became news in New York this week (The New York Times November 24) over the authenticity of a 1956 painting, attributed to Jackson Pollock by its owner.
The Jackson Pollock Foundation experts appointed by the artist’s widow says the picture is a fake. “No Pollock expert would say it is genuine. A silver wash covers the canvas and a black ovoid shape near the centre serves as a focal point. No other Pollock has these characteristics.”
Meanwhile, forensic scientists have examined the object microscopically and have analysed the paint’s chemistry. Fibres, particles and a polar bear hair are associated with the paint on the picture. They are the same as other specimens found in Pollock’s house (a polar bear rug) and garden. But even if the work was made in Pollock’s garden, that is not proof that he painted it.
Pollock gave the picture to his mistress when he was “in an alcoholic tailspin, and hadn’t painted for two years”. Those directly involved are no longer alive but the new owners have a financial interest: is it worth $50,000 or $1,000,000?