I came across this documentary a few months ago, and was captivated and amused by the tale.
Truck driver Teri Horton was in a local thrift store and bought what she calls an ugly painting for $5. Unable to fit it in her trailer, Teri attempts to sell it in a yard sale. An art history professor tells her she may have a real Jackson Pollock.
To this she replies “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?”
Documentary film maker Harry Moses chronicles Teri’s fifteen year journey in navigating the art market to authenticate the origin of the painting. Teri’s story is inter-weaved with commentary from leading forensic scientist Peter Paul Biro, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thomas Hoving, and convicted art rogue Tod Volpe.
Moses goes to great length to construct an accurate representation of the art world by interviewing key figures, explaining art terms and procedures, as well as shedding some light onto who Pollock really was.
If authenticated, Teri Horton’s painting could be worth a cool $25 million. Not a bad return for a $5 investment.
Aside from the mind-boggling possibility of discovering a real Pollack from a thrift store, the store is a real gem. Moses crafts an intelligible store of Pollack, interviewing friends and talking about the avant-guard approach he took to painting. Moses also shows just how pretentious and inane players in the art market can be. My favorite example of this? A potential investor looks at the painting and asks about provenance. Volpe states that there is no signature, although Pollack’s fingerprint is on the painting. The investor scoffs and says, “Well, there has to be a signature, even if it’s forged.”