Saturday, November 10

I got this movie from Netflix this evening, and feel the need to review it because it sheds a light on the art world that I found both intriguing and repulsive. The premise of the film is that a retired truck driver, Teri Horton, finds the painting in question at a thrift store. She pays five dollars for it, decides she doesn't have a place for it, and tries to sell it at a yard sale where she is informed by a local teacher that it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. At this she exclaims, "Who the $#@%!%* is Jackson Pollock?!?" The movie is full of pretentious intellectuals who dismiss Teri because she is uneducated, and there is no provenance to back up the painting.
Where things become interesting is when the comparisons are made between truck driver Teri and Pollock himself. Jackson Pollock was hardly on par with the established art community, and would have frequented similar bars to those the documentary crew often films Teri in. Hard headed, Pollock wouldn't sell a painting unless the buyer met with all his price demands, even if he was completely broke. In a similar spirit, Teri is offered up to $9 million dollars for the painting at one point, but because she's trying to prove a point to the "experts" she won't settle for less than $25 million (which she's still holding out for).
At one point Teri explains that she got sick of being toyed with and made up her own provenance, which is not unheard of in the art world. She began to explain her acquisition of the painting as a gift from an old bar tender who used to serve Pollock. As Pollock used to pay off debt with paintings, many "experts" actually bought into her story, but she eventually felt guilty and revealed the truth.
The complete refusal of the art community to even look at the scientific evidence as valid astounded me. As the "feel" of the canvas bore more importance on the ruling of the painting as a genuine work than the fingerprint matched to the canvas did. I do agree that there is minimal, if any, forensic evidence to verify the painting as genuine; not to mention that it really does lack some stylistic similarities with verified Pollocks. The fact, however, is that this story is is absolutely fascinating in the way the film makers shed some light on the way the art world operates.

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