Seattle Art Museum to restore Jackson Pollock painting

You can always spot a Jackson Pollock painting. The American abstract expressionist had a discernible style, a signature, a way of communicating that was his and his alone.
He hurled himself into his work, quite literally, by delivering an impulsive mixture of drips, splatters and whimsical pops from hand to canvas, after which he simply let his heart dictate where the painting went.
What we therefore get are huge, colourful and emotive works of art, as volatile as him, threatening to break free from whatever holding has them propped up on whatever wall, gallery or home.
Given that there is a huge amount going on in his works, it is easy to appreciate that when it comes to “Pollock conservation”, it will always be quite a task. There is a lot of tussling going on in his paintings, various colours and shapes competing with each other for space, for their right to be noticed. Easy it is not.
Seattle Art Museum has announced that it is embarking on such a project, after receiving funding from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, which provides grants to non-profit museums to ensure that important works of art are kept from falling into disrepair.
Pollock’s Sea Change (1947) will now be restored to its original form, but it isn’t as easy as one, two, three. Though we know a lot about Pollock, the way he worked and the types of paint he used, every painting is unique.
“I like to use dripping, fluid paint,” he once said. “I also use sand, broken glass, pebbles, string, nails or other foreign matter… I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.”
Therefore, the conservationists will begin by delivering a comprehensive technical study of the original materials that were used, as well as detailed research on his work at large to provide all-important context.
“Bank of America’s award of this art conservation grant creates a lasting legacy for Sea Change, which is one of the anchors of our collection,” commented Nicholas Dorman, chief conservator at the Seattle Art Museum.
“We are extremely grateful to Bank of America for helping us preserve this important work and the lasting benefits it will bring the museum and the entire north-west.”
No timescale has been given on how long it will take to complete the project, though anywhere between 12 and 18 months is a fair summation. It will not be rushed, as this is a very important work of art, considered to be one of his “transitional” pieces.
This saw Pollock leave behind figurative ideas and head towards complete abstraction, as he finally found what he was looking for. He would paint in this style vociferously over the next nine years, before tragically dying in a car accident in 1956.
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