The Getty Will Give Pollock's 'Mural' A Facelift This Summer

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Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943. Reproduced with permission from The University of Iowa.

By Lenika Cruz

As one of the most famous American painters, abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock has enjoyed a certain longevity in the American public consciousness as well as popular culture (including nods in the MTV show "Daria," the films "Mona Lisa Smile" and "Miami Vice" and Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Bluebeard").

This summer, the Getty Conservation Institute will team up with the University of Iowa Museum of Art to ensure that this permanence extends to Pollock's physical work itself. The two institutions will collaborate to conserve one of Pollock's most influential paintings, "Mural," which has been part of the University of Iowa's art collection since it was donated by art collector Peggy Guggenheim in 1951, according to a release.

The artwork will travel to Los Angeles this summer, where it will undergo technical study by Getty scientists, who will then formulate a detailed approach for conservation treatment.

University of Iowa President Sally Mason said in a release, "This is a win-win situation for everyone. With this conservation treatment by the Getty, Pollock's Mural will continue to be viewed for many years to come." President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust James Cuno also said in a release that "Mural" "is of phenomenal importance in the history of 20th century art, and this project meshes perfectly with the skills of the Getty Museum's paintings conservators and the ongoing research of the scientists involved in the Getty Conservation Institute's Modern Paints Project."

The painting's impending arrival to Los Angeles will be a somewhat serendipitous event, considering it was almost sold off a couple times for financial reasons. The New York Times ArtsBeat blog reported:

In 2008, the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the University of Iowa Museum of Art, explored the idea of selling the work - which is insured for $140 million - to defray the cost of flood damage to the university’s campus but decided against it. Last year a proposed bill in the Iowa state legislature would have required the sale of the painting to create a scholarship fund; the bill was dropped amid widespread criticism.

Painted in 1943, "Mural" preceded the phase of Pollock's career that focused mainly on "drip painting," which spanned most of the late 1940s and the 1950s. Once the painting is conserved, a process that is expected to take almost two years to complete, according to Patch, "Mural" will be exhibited at the Getty Center for three months. Before its arrival in L.A., the painting will be on display at the Des Moines Art Center until mid-July.