University of Iowa's Pollock "Mural" Heading to Los Angeles

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – University of Iowa’s “mural,” considered a seminal work by famed artist Jackson Pollock, will be conserved as part of a new collaboration between the UI Museum of Art and the Getty.

The 1943 Mural will travel to the Getty Center in Los Angeles this summer, after it wraps up a showing at the Des Moines Art Center. At the Getty, the painting will undergo technical study and conservation treatment by research scientists at the Getty Conservation Institute and conservators at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

UI President Sally Mason called it a “win-win situation for everyone,” in a statement released today by Getty.

“With this conservation treatment by the Getty, Pollock’s Mural will continue to be viewed for many years to come,” Mason said in the statement.

“Mural” was evacuated from the museum building, along with the rest of the UI Museum of Art collection, in the days leading up to the June 2008 flood. For nearly three years after the flood, it was displayed at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. Its showing at the Des Moines Art Center started April 5 and runs through July 15.

Past suggestions that the university sell the painting, last valued at $140 million, during times of tight budgets have stirred controversy, and UI officials have opposed such a sale. The painting was a gift to the UI in 1951 from Peggy Guggenheim.

James Cuno, president and chief executive officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust, said the painting 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 Getty Conservation Institute is currently leading a comprehensive research effort into modern paints and the challenges they present in terms of conservation.

The Getty Museum regularly undertakes the conservation of key works of art from institutions around the world as part of the Getty’s overall philanthropic mission, officials there said. The Museum has developed an active collaboration program where it works in conjunction with guest conservators and the curators from institutions whose works are being conserved. These projects are undertaken at little or no cost to the institution in exchange for the opportunity to show the work in the Museum’s galleries following conservation, officials said.

Prior to the conservation, GCI scientists and the Getty Museum’s paintings conservators will collaborate on an investigation into the materials and techniques of the painting and together, will develop a treatment approach. Once the painting is conserved, Mural will be exhibited at the Getty Center for three months.

“The Museum hopes to continue to be able to share Mural with a wide audience, and help more individuals understand its important place in art history,” UI Museum of Art Director Sean O’Harrow said in a statement.

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