I want to thank the OrbisPlanis viewer who alerted me to a mistake I made in the March 5, 2009, blog post. The blog was about a documentary on Jackson Pollock and whether a painting from a thrift store was an authentic Pollock or not. Unfortunately I spelled the name of the artist incorrectly in the blog. So, to make up for that, I'm re-posting the blog with the correct spelling - Pollock - and will delete the previous post. My apologies to Mr. Pollock and his family.
I recently saw a very interesting show, a documentary film actually by New Line Cinema on the Sundance Channel. For those who either don’t know or live where it’s not available, the Sundance Channel is, according to its website, “…the television destination for independent-minded viewers seeking something different; bold, uncompromising and irreverent, Sundance Channel offers audiences a diverse and engaging selection of films, documentaries, and original programs, all unedited and commercial free.” It was founded by famous actor and director Robert Redford in 1996. The Sundance Channel is available in the US on cable and satellite networks, and may be available in other parts of the world as well.
The other evening I watched the documentary entitled “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?” It was one of the most intriguing shows about art that I have seen.
It chronicles the story of Teri Horton who in 1992 in San Bernardino, California, paid $5US for a large painting at a thrift store (it may be called something else where you live, but anyway a store that sells used items) for an ailing friend. It was treated almost as junk and very nearly discarded. Only later when someone, it’s not clear to me who exactly, told her it looked like a Jackson Pollock painting. Pollock’s iconic paintings are world-renowned for their abstract drips, splatters, and splashes of color.
At that point, Horton, a big-rig truck driver by trade and with little knowledge of art or the “art world,” began a quest to prove that Pollock is the artist of her painting. It’s also her quest to prove the “art world” wrong. Without going into all the twists and turns, which at times seems like a fictional movie, the documentary covers multiple paths to prove authenticity of the painting over next decade.
The cast of quirky characters seem to have come straight from the pages of a Larry McMurtry novel. Teri Horton herself is a salt-of-the-earth character if there ever was one. Her raspy voice and demeanor remind me of actress Elaine Strich.
There is forensic art detective Peter Paul Biro who spent considerable time and effort attempting to prove authenticity to no avail, including crawling around on the floor of Pollock-Glasner House (Pollock’s art studio, now a museum) in East Hampton, New York. His primary work centers around the fingerprint he found on the back of the painting and his scientific work in trying to match it with the few fingerprints of Pollock’s that have been found--one on a paint can in the Pollock-Glasner House.
There are art dealers and critics, regarded as experts, who come off in the film as condescending. They include, among others, Jeffrey Bergen, Nick Carone, and Thomas Hoving who contend the painting is not a Pollock even with the evidence of matching fingerprints. There’s Tod Volpe, who appears as Horton’s business manager and agent and who himself spent a couple of years in prison for art fraud.
Then there are Horton’s friends and family who stand behind her all the way. All in all, an interesting group of folks. Did I mention that Teri Horton has already turned down offers of $2 millionUS and $9 millionUS, the latter a buyer from an Saudi Arabia? Such is the determination of Horton.
The documentary was completed in 2006 and leaves the viewer in a quandary over which side to believe. For more information , you can Google the title or Teri Horton’s name and find many websites and articles about this interesting story.
The latest update I found was from October 31, 2008, in the Art News Blog, which reported the painting was for sale in the Gallery Delisle in Toronto, Canada, for the price of $50 millionUS.