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September 5, 2012 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Red, Black, & Silver. The dramatic ongoing battle over what may be Jackson Pollock's last painting.
posted by xowie (12 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by dhartung at 2:28 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Linda Durham was so committed to the slice of the pie she stood to receive, uh...I mean, the noble attempt of verifying this work that she and Ruth actually attended counseling to try to establish a rapport. It didn't work. Ruth lived within walking distance of Linda's gallery and was in there ALL THE TIME. I saw her carrying a hand written sign with her name on it every time she came by. No disrespect...really, sorry...but Ruth was nuts and an attention whore even in her last years.
posted by No Shmoobles at 3:30 PM on September 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow No Shmoobles, that's a pretty mean way to be respectful. Is it a personal thing?
posted by merelyglib at 6:42 PM on September 5, 2012

Nope. Just an eyewitness... To Red Black & Silver and to the endless narcissism of the fine art world.
posted by No Shmoobles at 6:59 PM on September 5, 2012

No Shmoobies - who are you condemning here? The ex-wife, feeling slighted by a mistress in possession of a multi-mulit-million dollar painting from her late husband, or the mistress who had but one remaining token of their time together?
posted by revmitcz at 8:31 PM on September 5, 2012

Oops. I got my Linda Durhams and my Lee Krasners all mixed up. Your comment makes sense now, but it's such a fascinating story that it could kinda go either way. Makes me wish for a short film to be made about just this debate, which presented the case from as neutral a point of view as possible.

Sure, Kligman could be a rich-artist-hunting deadbeat trying to make millions on a bunk painting since she had nary a penny to her name throughout most of her life. After all, she was good pals with a known Pollock recreation artist Mike Bidlo. He could very well have made a painting that approximated Pollock's style. And, sure, most people wonder why she hadn't included any mention of the painting in the first edition of her memoir. Not to mention how she had more than a passing interest in specifically dating America's most respected painters. And that almost no one who knew her even mentioned the painting prior to her attempts to have it appraised, which came at a time when she was flat-broke, desperate, and living on welfare.


The only living person who Kligman had claimed to have seen the painting prior to her appraisal attempts is still, in her mid-80s, corroborating the exact story Kligman told all along. There are no glaring holes in Kligman's intricately-woven plot. She was also, verifiably, the only person who walked away from the car accident that killed Pollock. It would also make sense that Pollock's widow, Lee Krasner, would create roadblocks out of spite in order to dismiss any potential gain for Kligman. The Pollock-Klausner Authentication Board dismissed the first attempt to have the painting authenticated, but had disbanded before further evidence was submitted for review. Remaining members of the board were seen trusting a Fractal test of other possible Pollock paintings that were shown as inauthentic, but were suspiciously untrusting when Kligman's painting rated "Category A" (the highest grade) in the same tests. The latest test done has also been shown to not rule out the painting's creation date of 1956, once again busting zero holes in the Kligman plot.

So, yes, Kligman may have been a bit "nutty" and/or eccentric. Perhaps just an opportunistic drifter. Maybe even a high-art gold digger. What makes this story so compelling is that she just might have held on to what would've been the most valuable privately-owned painting in the world.
posted by revmitcz at 9:42 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wait, you're telling me there are dilettantes, gold-diggers, social climbers, and eccentrics in the New York art world?! Heavens, have I been naïve!

Put another way: I wonder why so many people are selflessly interested in protecting the legacy of this talented man they loved so much.
posted by dhartung at 10:28 PM on September 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

what would've been the most valuable privately-owned painting in the world.

Unlikely. There are some pretty expensive paintings that are currently missing and believed to be in private hands.

It's certainly unlikely to be even expensive in terms of Pollock. My university owns "Mural" which is currently homeless due to its museum being destroyed in a flood in 2008. Some people wanted to "deaccession" it (sell it) which caused a huge uproar, since it is likely to be the single most expensive object in the state. It's currently insured for only $140 million. I talked to the curator once, gave her an eccentric paper I wrote about the painting 20 years ago, and we chatted about the painting's value. I said I figured it was worth at least $250 million, and if it ever came on the market, it would break all price records by a long shot. She got all excited and said "I've said the same thing! *Finally* someone who believes me!"

Anyway, the painting is currently in restoration at the Getty Conservation Institute and I hear it will tour briefly in 2014 after it's restoration. I think it will appear at the Getty in LA and MOMA NY.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:04 AM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

The preferred referral is to Willem de Kooning, Ruth's Zowie, 1957.
posted by xowie at 7:38 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I understand that Ruth Kligman's reputation as an art-world groupie may lead some to doubt her credibility here, but on the other hand, if she's not much of an artist herself and Mike Diblo (the Pollock reconstruction artist) denies doing it, then how did Red, Black, & Silver get made? In addition, Ruth Kligman's relationship as mistress to Pollock makes establishing a provenance of the painting seem more plausible than it would be if this were just some Pollock that some everyday person claimed to have found in a random closet or attic.
posted by jonp72 at 7:47 AM on September 6, 2012

...just some Pollock that some everyday person claimed to have found in a random closet or attic.

Funny you should mention that...
posted by TedW at 8:02 AM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

jonp72: if [...] Mike Diblo (the Pollock reconstruction artist) denies doing it, then how did Red, Black, & Silver get made?
Either (1) Pollock really did make it, (2) aliens!, or (3) Mike Bidlo is lying.

Naah, couldn't be #3. Couldn't be.

(Bidlo, BTW, not Diblo)
posted by IAmBroom at 9:13 AM on September 6, 2012

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