Saturday, October 27, 2007

Litt on Matter “Pollocks”

In a report published Wednesday, Steven Litt of The Cleveland Plain Dealer offers more reasons to doubt the authenticity of the Alex Matter “Jackson Pollocks” on view at Boston College through Dec. 20. Matter claims he found 34 Pollock-style paintings in his late father’s effects in 2002. But 17 of the 26 paintings scientists have studied so far contain materials that were patented after Pollock’s death in a 1956 car wreck. Now Litt reports:
in interviews and e-mails over the past month, some of the world's leading experts on the pigments say it is highly unlikely that Pollock could have leapfrogged the known history of paint in the 20th century not just once, but several times or more.

Donald Farnum, a retired Michigan State University professor credited with the 1974 discovery of an organic pigment that has shown up in 10 of the possible Pollocks, said … that he has found no evidence in scientific literature that anyone previously tried the chemical reaction that led to his discovery.

"I also believe," Farnum wrote, "it is unlikely to the point of fantasy to believe that someone conducted the reaction, isolated the pigment, did the studies necessary to demonstrate that it was a stable, viable paint pigment, formulated the paint and provided it to Jackson Pollock without ever revealing that they had done that in the literature."
Read the rest here.

Matter claims he found the paintings wrapped in brown paper scribbled with a note – supposedly by his father, a pal of Pollock’s – attributing the paintings to Pollock, identifying when he painted them and what sort of paints he used. If the science holds up, this note is much in error – and highly suspicious. As I’ve noted in the past, these extensive details suggest that if the “Pollocks” aren’t real, then this may not be an innocent mix-up but a fraud.

Litt also posted an update today on the fractal analysis of the paintings. The upshot is that fractal analysis tells us nothing at this point – which is helpful to know, but nothing new.

Some of my many past reports on this subject are here, here, here, here and here.


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