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Thursday, 23 August 2012 17:20

Jackson Pollack's Mistress Claims 'Red, Black & Silver' was the Painter's Last Work

Pollack and his wife, the painter, Lee Krasner Pollack and his wife, the painter, Lee Krasner Wilfrid Zogbaum/A.P. Images/Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center

Jackson Pollock’s mistress Ruth Kligman said she watched him paint it, as a love token, just before his fatal 1956 car crash. But the Pollock-Krasner Authentication Board, whose members were close with Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, have questioned its authenticity. Pollock, Kligman, and Krasner are all now dead, but as Red, Black & Silver heads to auction, on the 100th anniversary of Pollock’s birth, Lesley M. M. Blume chronicles the dramatic ongoing battle over what may have been an American master’s last canvas.

The imagery on the canvas is relatively spare: a black oblong shape resides at the picture’s center, encircled by a loose knot of swirling red lines. It’s a small painting, just 24 by 20 inches. There is nothing to indicate that this unassuming, unsigned work has been the subject of an explosive, decades-long battle, a saga that has drawn in some of America’s best-known artists and the power brokers of the art world.

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