Jackson Pollock‘s world-renowned ‘Alchemy’ painting is now on show as the centrepiece of a dedicated exhibition at the Guggenheim Gallery, New York. ‘Exploring Alchemy’ envelopes visitors in the world of an art conservator, allowing them to analyse the physical properties of the materials the artist used to create his first poured piece.
Last exhibited in 1969, ‘Alchemy’ has spent years being restored by a dedicated team of experts from the Guggenheim, alongside various Italian organisations, in Florence, Italy. The Guggenheim exhibition details some of these state-of-the-art, scientific techniques. Set in the Sackler Centre for Arts Education, ‘three-dimensional imaging, elemental mapping, x-radiography, and non-destructive analytical techniques’ are displayed, via video footage and interactive zones, to explore Pollock’s chosen materials, including pigment and binders.The painting itself is synonymous with ne of the Museum’s infamous founders – Peggy Guggenheim – herself. An incredibly resilient collector of contemporary art during the Second World War, the Jewish benefactress remained in Germany throughout much of the persecution in order to support and purchase works from fledgling artists. The collection she amassed is now a priceless example of modernism, which could otherwise have gone to ground in the Nazi’s own art collection.
Once she had fled to New York, Peggy Guggenheim came into contact with struggling, American artists such as Pollock – and gave them their first public exposure. She was passionate about Pollock’s work and threw him into the spotlight in a series of one-man shows at her gallery on 57th Street – ‘Art of This Century’. He was the only artist she subsidised financially in a long-term, stipendiary arrangement, which enabled him to devote his attentions to his own contemporary art career on a full-time basis. Later in Venice, she organised for his work to be shown at the Biennale in 1948, with ‘Alchemy’ taking a starring role.
It is arguably one of the most important works she kept for her modern art collection. She went on to praise Pollock as her ‘most honourable achievement’, and he is now considered the ‘leading force behind the abstract impressionist movement in the art world’.
For more information about Jackson Pollock’s career, head to jackson-pollock.org.
[Credits: guggenheim.org; jackson-pollock.org]