A front-page story in the Boston Globe arts section last Sunday reminds us that the Pollock-Matter Affair is alive and well and moving to Boston. One of the biggest art world controversies in decades, this perfect storm of paint, press hype, and cultivated invective swirls around a group of Jackson Pollock-like art works that filmmaker Alex Matter discovered in a Long Island storage locker five years ago.
The paintings evidently belonged to the late Herbert Matter, Alex’s father, a photographer and graphic designer and a close friend of Jackson Pollock and his wife, artist Lee Krasner.
But were the Matter paintings really created by the most famous (and highest priced) Abstract Expressionist? Art experts violently disagree— so much so that you wonder if the art world really knows what it is talking about. Prof. Ellen Landau of Case Western Reserve University, one of the world’s leading Pollock experts, says the paintings look right to her. “No way,” counters the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, owner of copyright to Pollock and Krasner’s work. Scientists, art dealers, researchers, artists, critics, reporters, and assorted self-appointed “authorities” have all weighed in. The ironies grow when you realize that all the world’s real, living Pollock specialists could fit in a booth at your local diner.
Last winter, conservation scientists at Harvard University studying a selection of the disputed works declared they had been painted, in part, with materials not available during Pollock’s lifetime. End of story, right? Well, maybe not. Labor Day weekend some of the Matter paintings go on public view for the first time at Boston College’s McMullen Museum.
The show, which includes some 150 works by Pollock and others, is called “Pollock Matters.” It may be well turn out to be the strangest and most dramatic turn in this whole convoluted story. A source quoted in the Globe piece tells us: “Look for this exhibition to drop several large bombshells on some enlarged egos of the art world. My prediction is that the show’s catalogue will become one of the few art books published to make international news.”
See for yourself this coming week at BC.