Good Public Outreach Rendered Silly

The December 7, 2012 issue of The Wall Street Journal contained a small feature (“Pondering Pollock, by Ellen Gamerman) about the Getty Center/University of Iowa Museum of Art study of Jackson Pollock’s 1943 painting, “Mural”. Gamerman explained how investigators are using tools like microscopy, x-radiography, and lasers to discern Pollock’s working method. The positive impact of the piece is undermined by the accompanying (most likely staged) photograph featuring the rumps of two Getty officials, an artist, and a conservation scientist as the men bend over to examine the painting and by the mention of the fact that, while conservators have been known to spot clean paintings with their saliva, they could not have used the technique on this painting because it is eight feet by twenty feet in size.