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Jackson Pollock Treasure Found

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Jackson Pollock Treasure Found

Art & Design

Jackson Pollock Treasure Found

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Thirty-two previously unknown, uncataloged works by the late Jackson Pollock have been discovered in a storage locker on Long Island. The paintings were actually found in 2002, but the announcement was just made today after the works were cleaned and authenticated. The discovery adds an unexpected page to the story of the colorful, troubled painter. Jeff Lunden got to see some of the art, and he has this report.

JEFF LUNDEN reporting:

Alex Matter, son of photographer Herbert Matter and abstract painter Mercedes Matter, was cleaning out his parents' belongings after his mother's death when he came upon a package which his father had marked in part, `Pollock, 1946 to 1949, 32 experimental works.'

Mr. ALEX MATTER (Son of Herbert and Mercedes Matter): They were pretty dirty. I mean, the colors really didn't show up and--you know, but obviously it was incredibly exciting.

LUNDEN: The Matters had been good friends with Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner, and Alex Matter grew up in a household with large Pollock paintings on the wall. But he had never seen these 32 small works before. He guesses that his father had simply forgotten about them. But because of a major illness, he didn't do anything with the works for a year. Finally he took the paintings to art dealer Mark Borghi, who says it was like opening a time capsule. The package had been in storage since 1958. The works needed cleaning and restoration, which took another year.

Mr. MARK BORGHI (Art Dealer): And as they came back one by one, every--it was astounding. (Laughs) I keep using that word, but it was--there's no--undescribable.

LUNDEN: Borghi then got in touch with Ellen Landau, a professor at Case Western Reserve University and author of books on Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Landau says this cache of paintings is a significant find.

Professor ELLEN LANDAU (Case Western Reserve University): This is an entire body of work that Pollock was creating in the late 1940s just at the point when he was virtually on the verge of developing what we now consider to be the classic pour pictures, his signature style.

LUNDEN: The small works are all in Pollock's dripped and poured style, some swirling with vibrant colors, others black and white with tiny flecks of orange. There are 22 canvases and 10 paintings on board. For a painter whose work is so widely known and reproduced, Ellen Landau says these 32 paintings will spark new investigations.

Prof. LANDAU: It was very unlikely that a consistent body of work by Jackson Pollock would surface at this point in time. And since next year, 2006, is 50 years from the date of his death, it's quite incredible that 50 year--a half a century later there's still new stuff to learn.

LUNDEN: For now the works are not being shown but will be part of an exhibition tour next year to mark the 50th anniversary of Pollock's passing. For NPR News, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.

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SIEGEL: And you can see pictures of two of the newly found Jackson Pollock paintings at our Web site, npr.org.

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SIEGEL: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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