February 9, 2006

Trove of Pollocks found in New York may be fake

By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A computer analysis of paintings
unveiled last year as previously undiscovered works by abstract
artist Jackson Pollock suggests the 32 works are fakes, the
Pollock-Krasner Foundation said on Thursday.

The foundation, set up under the will of Pollock's widow
Lee Krasner, said it retained Professor Richard Taylor of the
University of Oregon's Department of Physics to test six of the
32 paintings in question.

Taylor said his study found "significant differences
between the patterns of the six paintings ... (and) Pollock's
paintings that we have analyzed."

For the past decade Taylor has analyzed Pollock's work
using fractal analysis -- a technique that looks for geometric
patterns that recur in the paintings despite the apparent chaos
of Pollock's famed drip paintings.

"All of Jackson Pollock's poured paintings analyzed by my
research group are composed of a highly specific and
identifiable form of fractal patterning," Taylor wrote in his
report, which the foundation made public.

"Pollock's specific fractal signature has not been found in
the submitted paintings. The analysis has also revealed that
the patterns vary between the paintings, indicating that they
may have been painted by different hands," the report said.

Art historian Francis O'Connor, leading the foundation's
investigation, said Taylor's results "reinforce my own
skepticism and reservations concerning the paintings."

"The historical documentation to date provides no
conclusive proof that the new works can be attributed to
Pollock," O'Connor said in a statement.

He added a comparison with Pollock's works from 1943-1950,
when the works are said to have been painted, "reveals no
relation to Pollock's known stylistic development."

Charles Bergman, head of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation,
stopped short of calling the paintings fakes. He said the
investigation would continue until a final decision on the
paintings' authenticity would be made.

Last May, Alex Matter, a filmmaker who knew Pollock from
childhood, said he had found the paintings among the
possessions of his late parents, who knew Pollock.

He said the paintings had been first stored in a Manhattan
boiler room and then for nearly three decades in a warehouse in
East Hampton, Long Island, not far from where Pollock had his
studio and was killed in car crash in 1956.

The works included 22 drip paintings and two enamels on
paper. The rest, all on board, were unfinished and experimental
works which, he said, might show how Pollock explored the order
of laying down colors.

Around 1946, Pollock stopped using brushes and began
dripping and pouring paint. He burst onto the art scene in the
early 1950s when Life magazine showed him pouring and dripping
paint on a canvas on a floor.

The highest price paid at auction for a Pollock was $11.65
million, in 2004.

Matter had wanted the works to tour museums this year to
coincide with the 50th anniversary of Pollock's death.

When Matter announced his discovery last year, he said he
had found the paintings two years earlier but had held off on
unveiling them until they were authenticated.

He said the works were authenticated by Ellen Landau, a
Pollock art historian who has curated exhibits of his work.