Source: The New York Times (www.nytimes.com), by Randy Kennedy
A forensic scientist said yesterday that a large group of paintings discovered several years ago and thought by some to be by Jackson Pollock included many containing paints and materials that were not available until after the artist’s death in 1956.
At least one was painted on a board that was not produced earlier than the late 1970s or early ’80s, said the scientist, James Martin, in a lecture last night sponsored by the International Foundation for Art Research in Manhattan.
Mr. Martin was commissioned to examine the paintings in 2005 by their owner, Alex Matter, the son of Herbert and Mercedes Matter, artists who were friends of Pollock’s. Mr. Matter has said he found the paintings, made in Pollock’s signature drip style, in 2002 or 2003 in a Long Island storage container that had belonged to his father.
Although Mr. Martin, who is based in Williamstown, Mass., completed the analysis last fall, he has said he did not release it earlier because Mr. Matter’s lawyer told him he would face a lawsuit if he did so. It is unclear why he chose to go public now.
Mr. Matter’s lawyer, Jeremy Epstein, has denied threatening Mr. Martin, but he has said that he did tell Mr. Martin he was not authorized to release the report because Mr. Matter, who has sold some of the paintings, did not feel it was complete.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that the paintings — 32 in all, including some ephemera and works on paper — were made by someone other than Pollock or at least that many were substantially altered after the artist’s death. Mr. Martin also examined materials in Pollock’s studio on Long Island for evidence of paints similar to the suspect samples on the Matter paintings but found none.
Three of the 24 paintings that Mr. Martin examined were analyzed around the same time last year by the Harvard University Art Museums, which reported similar findings. Richard Newman, the head of scientific research at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has also examined the paintings and found that two of the nine he looked at contained a pigment first known to have been patented by Ciba-Geigy in 1983, a result also found by Mr. Martin.
Since their discovery was reported in 2005, the paintings have been the subject of an intense scientific and scholarly debate that has drawn attention to the growing role of technology in questions that were once the sole province of connoisseurs.
Ellen G. Landau, a professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and one of the world’s most respected Pollock scholars, said in 2005 that she believed the works were authentic. She agreed to conduct scholarly research for an exhibition of the paintings that opened on Sept. 1 and continues through Dec. 9 at the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College. (The show focuses largely on the personal and artistic relationship between Pollock and Herbert Matter, who was a photographer and graphic designer.)
But after Dr. Landau’s role in supporting the works was announced in 2005, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which had declined to enter into authentication disputes for almost a decade, became involved. It enlisted Eugene V. Thaw, a veteran art dealer, and Francis V. O’Connor, an art historian and author of the four-volume catalogue raisonné, or complete listing, of Pollock’s work.
Both scholars disagreed strongly with Dr. Landau, with whom they had previously served on a board that examined paintings to determine whether they were genuine Pollocks.
Dr. Landau said recently that she was no longer involved in research or debate regarding the paintings.
As the dispute was heating up, Mr. Matter quietly sold some of the works, although he had generally maintained in interviews that he was not interested in profiting from their discovery.
Some of the paintings are believed to have been sold to the SoHo gallery owner Ronald Feldman, who has declined to comment on the issue.Related News:How Do You Tell A Real Pollock?
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