February 23, 2006

Expert calls disputed Pollock paintings authentic

By Luis Andres Henao

BOSTON (Reuters) - An expert in the work of abstract artist
Jackson Pollock said 32 previously unknown paintings appear to
be authentic, taking issue with a recent computer analysis
suggesting they are fakes.

"If evidence does turn out to indicate that Pollock did not
paint these works after all, I would be inclined to judge them
the most amazing fakes in modern art history," Ellen Landau, a
professor of art history at the Cleveland Museum of Art/Case
Western University, told a conference on Thursday in Boston.

Alex Matter, a filmmaker who knew Pollock from childhood,
said in May he had found the paintings four years ago among the
possessions of his late parents, who knew Pollock. He began
showing them publicly after Landau authenticated them last

Matter has 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.

Using slides, Landau pointed out similarities between
Pollock's paintings and abstract photographs taken by Matter's
father, photographer Herbert Matter, who she said became close
to Pollock by the late 1940's.

Landau said the 32 Pollock paintings might have been
experimental to test new techniques.

Landau's conclusion was completely different from that
reached by Professor Richard Taylor of the University of
Oregon's Department of Physics, who had been hired to analyze
the paintings by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, set up under
the will of Pollock's widow, painter Lee Krasner.

Taylor did a computer analysis of six of the 32 paintings
and concluded they were fakes. For the past decade, Taylor has
analyzed the American artist'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

Kerrie Buitrago, executive president of the Pollock-Krasner
Foundation, told Reuters in an e-mail that they do not yet have
hard evidence that the paintings in question were experimental
works as Landau has said.

"Historical evidence and stylistic analysis are essential,
as well as scientific evidence such as fractal analysis and
conservation reports," she said.