Thursday, August 7, 2008
Paring down -- starting with the Pollock
It's that time again -- time to throw around the idea of selling the single most expensive item in the state of Iowa: Jackson Pollock's "Mural."
Former UI Museum of Art director Howard Collinson floated the idea last fall, drawing the ire and finger wags of many people around town. Now the idea is on the table again -- this time to pay for the millions of dollars needed to restore the UI Arts Campus, which was all but destroyed in the flood last June.
Only one thing owned by the state of Iowa -- the road system -- costs more than this Pollock, which languished in the museum's basement until the late 1960s, when some enterprising curators rolled it out of storage. Over a decade before, Peggy Guggenheim, who had it hanging in her New York apartment, packed up her things and her poodles and moved to Venice, at which point she gifted it to the then president of the university.
See that painting off to the right of the Pollock with the big red dot? That's Adolph Gottlieb's Edge, my favorite work in the museum.
But let's be real. People come from around the world to Iowa to see the Pollock. It sounds a little melodramatic to say so, but to lose it would mean dooming most of the rest of the collection to obscurity.