A hard-surfing reader called our attention recently to a piece in the on-line journal, The Hub Review. The piece, “Why all the love for the ‘Matter Pollocks’?” reports on the on-going controversy covered in some previous “Anonymous Sources” posts on The Arts Fuse.
The article is by-lined Thomas Garvey, a recent commentator here. It includes this commanding statement: “It took one glance for me to decide the ‘Matter Pollocks’ were junk – either outright fakes or so bad that Pollock hid them out of embarrassment.”
Oh really? Our eagle-eyed reader points out that the article is dated August 28, four days before the McMullen Museum exhibition opened to the public. That means that Mr. Garvey passed judgment on the “Matter Pollocks” before he visited the McMullen exhibition, read any of its lengthy, scholarly catalogue, or actually saw any of the Matter works in person.
The time may well come when exhibitions are judged, lightning quick, on the basis of patchy news reports and murky internet images. But— call us old fashioned if you must— we feel it is still a good idea to actually see an exhibition before you review it, and especially before accusing its organizers of perpetuating a fraud.
Now Mr. Garvey wants to remind that “the work of ‘conservator’ Franco Lisi [sic: the gentleman in question spells his name ‘Lissi’] looks quite a bit like the ‘Pollocks’ he supposedly restored . . . hmmmm . . .”
Do tell! We urge our readers to compare for themselves. We find his representational works owe more to turn of the twentieth-century symbolists like Gustav Klimt (also fond of dots), James Ensor, and Edvard Munch than to Pollock. Their garish colors are particularly unlike any previously known Pollock or Pollock forgery we’ve ever heard of. It seems pretty unfair to accuse Lisi of being capable of forging the master’s work well enough to fool the real experts.
Meanwhile, we’ve also caught this response to the original article by Greg Cook that broke the Lissi story:
Mark Borghi of Mark Borghi Fine Art, which has represented the estate of Mercedes Matter and been involved with the Alex Matter “Pollocks,” responded Sunday night:
I would like to fill you in on the “chain of custody”. The first person to see the works from Alex was William O’Reilly who told Alex to show them to Joan Wasburn, who is the representative of the Jackson Pollock estate. In fact Joan had 3 of the works for at least 7 months. A call to her gallery can confirm this. This is long before myself or Franco ever laid eyes on any of the paintings. I collected the works from Joan in their original state prior to any conservation. It was only at this point that I became involved. It was I who introduced Alex to Franco in the spring of 2003…
So call us old fashioned if you must, but we think critics should still think twice before publishing potentially libelous accusations. Getting their eyes checked once in awhile might be another good idea.