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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?

We rented this from Netflix last night. This is a documentary about a Teri Horton, a 73 year old truck driver from Texas who bought a painting from a thrift store for $5. She originally bought the painting as a gift for her friend, but the painting was too big to fit in her friends trailer, so Horton tried to sell it at a yard sale. At the sale, a local art teacher saw the painting and told Horton that the painting could be a Jackson Pollock.

Horton then spent the next 10+ years trying to authenticate the painting. The documentary follows her efforts, and includes interviews with various art world experts such as Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Met, and John Myatt, a convicted art forger. The experts' opinions are varied and inconclusive. Horton finally hires Peter Paul Brio, a forensic specialist, who manages to match a fingerprint from the back of the painting to a fingerprint he finds on a paint can in Pollock's studio. However, recent findings cast some doubt on Brio's authentication methods.

The interviews are fun and compelling. Teri Horton is quite likable, and Thomas Hoving is equally unlikable. John Myatt was my favorite person in the movie. The interviewer visits Myatt in his studio, and Myatt shows off some of his original fakes. Myatt then explains that Pollock would be extremely difficult to forge. He adds that if he had to replicate a Pollock, he would get drunk first, because Pollock was always drunk when he painted. The camera is focused on Myatt during the interview, but in the background we can see a fake version of Robert Indiana's LOVE (see above).

In short, I recommend the movie.

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