Prof Impugns Pollock Pigments

LONDON -- A report by Nicholas Eastaugh, the director of Art Analysis & Research, examined the pigments used in 23 paintings by the famed Abstract Expressionist, Jackson Pollock. Of those, 12 were found to include Pigment Yellow 74, which was not commercially available until after the artist died in 1956.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network have reason to be concerned about fake Pollocks entrenched in the marketplace.

Six of the analyzed paintings were exhibited at the Art Monaco fair in July by the Nevada-based Classic Fine Art.

Paintings from the group were privately analyzed by Art Access & Research, a UK-based company, in 2010. Reports on each of the 12 works state: “The earliest forms of this class of pigment appeared on the commercial market in 1910 (PY1), with others following in the 1920s (such as PY4-6).

However, the date of introduction of PY74 is commonly given in the literature as 1957. This consequently raises a number of issues.

The reports recommend continued research to confirm the identification of PY74: to explore whether the yellow pigment could have been applied later by another hand, or whether it could have been made available to the artist before its general commercial release?

The investigations also uncovered the use of several pigments that match those found in paint cans in Pollock’s studio.

Of the 23 reports, all record the presence of titanium dioxide white; 21 reports document the presence of calcite, a mineral used as a white pigment. Phthalocyanine compounds were observed in 21 works, aluminum metal flake was present in 19 of the works. Lead chromate was detected in 14 works.

Synthetic ultramarine was found in 4 paintings, while low levels of cadmium sulphide were found in one, which correlated with a Pollock paint can containing a pink paint.

Classic Fine Art says it will not consider any exhibition or “financial involvement in the paintings” until scientific proof is available and the accepted authentication process completed.

“We will stand by the results, whatever they are,” they added. Stating that they believe the works are authentic and that “every indication” supports that belief.

Meanwhile an article published online by Art Monaco Magazine states that the “small private collection” represented at the fair was originally acquired by a New York collector, Armin Hershkowitx, from an anonymous woman. Hershkowitx then apparently struggled to find a buyer for the collection before selling it to the collector and conservator Gabor Nemeth in the 1960s.

One of the paintings was sold to a furniture designer on the West Coast of the US in the 1970s. The piece was reportedly authenticated by Pollock’s widow, Lee Krasner.

Johnessco Rodriguez, the director of Art Monaco, says that Classic Fine Art provided Nemeth with “solid evidence” about the authenticity of the works before exhibiting at the fair -- after the collector failed to authenticate the works with the Pollock-Krasner Foundation's board of authentication which was dissolved in 2002.

The Monaco fair director also added that the paintings were previously exhibited at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas. “We want to believe that they would not have displayed them if they weren’t sure of the veracity."