This documentary, written and directed by veteran broadcast
journalist and producer Harry Moses, is an enjoyable and eye-opening
behind-the-scenes look at the art world.
The premise goes like this: Over 15 years ago, Teri Horton, a
long-haul truck driver (with the mouth to match), goes to a thrift store
in Southern California to purchase a gift for a friend. She spots a colorful
splatter painting that she (Teri) thinks is god-awful but which she hope
will bring a smile to her pal. The store wanted eight dollars for the
painting and Teri haggled it down to five dollars. Needless to say, her
friend hated it and was relieved when it wouldn't fit through the door of
her trailer. So Teri put it in a yard sale, where a local teacher approached
her and told her that she may have a Jackson Pollock. True to form,
Teri replied "Who the f--k is Jackson Pollock?" Well, it was the beginning
of an odyssey that is one of those stranger than fiction moments.
The art world immediately discounted her, partly because
she lacked a provenance for the painting (other than it was purchased
in a thrift store) and because they all believed that every major Pollock
work had been discovered. Undaunted, Teri, along with assistance
from her son, set out to prove one way or another whether Pollock
painted the piece. To accomplish this, a forensic scientist with expertise
in the art world, Hungarian-born Canadian resident Peter Paul Biro
examines the canvas -- and makes a couple of startling discoveries.
There's a partial fingerprint in paint on the verso of the canvass that he
matches to Pollock. Biro also secured permission from the Pollock estate
to visit the artist's preserved workroom, where he took paint samples
and discovered the same fingerprint on a can of paint. Now on television
and in the law courts, that might be enough, but not so for the art
Many of the "experts" examine the canvass up close and dismiss
it as "lacking soul" or offer a snap judgement that it isn't by the artist
because they don't "feel" it. One of the most arrogant and the most
supercilious of the bunch is Thomas Hoving. Of course, over the years,
caches of hitherto unknown works constantly appear. It was recently
reported that the Queen of England actually owns a Caravaggio that
had been misattributed.
WHO THE #$&Z% IS JACKSON POLLOCK? proves to be an
intriguing film. It's the story of David taking on Goliath (in this instance
a profane truck driver with a grammar school education versus the
world of high art). There is certainly a lot of evidence in Teri Horton's
corner but the art world refuses to accept or endorse the work.
And despite offers of purchase that have included $2 million and $9
million, Ms. Horton refuses to sell. For her it's a matter of principle.
As the underdog in the situation, no matter what one thinks of her,
one cannot help but admire her grit.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language
Running time: 74 mins.
|Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.