The truth about Pollock’s all-nighter
Research reveals just how long the artist worked on his Mural, which goes on show at the Getty today
By Emily Sharpe. Conservation, Issue 255, March 2014
Published online: 11 March 2014
There seems to be at least some truth in the rumours that Jackson Pollock painted his first major commission from Peggy Guggenheim, his most ardent patron, in a single day. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Getty Conservation Institute have spent the past 18 months studying and treating Mural, 1943, a painting from the collection of the University of Iowa Museum of Art.
“It looks as if Pollock did finish some kind of initial composition over much of the canvas very rapidly, perhaps even in a single all-night session,” says Tom Learner, the conservation institute’s new head of science. “However, the majority of paint layers were not part of this session, and were frequently added over earlier applications of paint that had already dried, indicating that several days or even weeks would have passed between painting sessions.”
The research also shows that white house paint was used on areas of the canvas after Pollock completed the majority of the composition, and that it is unlikely that he dripped paint onto a horizontal canvas as it lay on the floor—a technique he used in other works.
Mural can be seen at the Getty in an exhibition about the research project (11 March-1 June).
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