New evidence offered for authenticity of Pollock's purported final work

Fri Nov 8, 2013 11:41pm EST
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By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New evidence of the authenticity of a drip painting said by some to be abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock's final work, was presented at a conference of art experts on Friday.

The painting, including polar bear hairs trapped in the paint that match a pelt rug from his studio, is owned by Ruth Kligman, an artist who was Pollock's mistress and the only one to survive when a drunken Pollock crashed his car in which she and a friend were riding in 1956.

The latest turn in the debate over the painting's long-disputed provenance has pitted the rarified art of connoisseurship, still supremely valued by auction houses, against the sort of blunt science more commonly used at murder scenes.

Kligman, who died in 2010, had long maintained that Pollock made the 20-by-24-inch painting - untitled but commonly known as "Red, Black & Silver" - in front of her at his studio on a canvas she gave to him, a few weeks before his death.

"This evidence is just another piece all along the way that has only supported Ruth's story about the creation of the painting," Davey Frankel, an artist and a trustee of the Kligman estate, said on the sidelines of the New York City conference.

Although the multiple experts who have previously scrutinized the painting have never found material evidence to contradict Kligman's account, the board established by Lee Krasner, Pollock's widow, to authenticate and catalog his artworks would not certify it as genuine before disbanding in 1995.


Krasner, while she was still alive, made no secret of her dislike for Kligman, and Kligman and those close to her believed that personal animosities tainted the connoisseurship of the board Krasner hired, which its members disputed.   Continued...

A visitor views American painter Jackson Pollock's 'Number 19,' oil and enamel on paper laid down on canvas, 1948 and estimated between $25-35 million, during a preview of Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Evening sale at Christie's auction house in New York, May 3, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar