Next month, a small painting called Red, Black & Silver, will go up for auction at Phillips de Pury. The painting, reproduced above, is listed as “attributed to Jackson Pollock,” rather than “by Jackson Pollock.” The decision to label the painting as such points at an incredible tale involving Pollock, his mistress, Ruth Kligman, and his wife, the artist Lee Krasner. The full story is in the September issue of Vanity Fair and it's a great one.
Kligman, who survived the fatal car crash that killed Pollock, (and who died two years ago), claimed that the painting was an “intensely personal gift” Pollock made for her, and that she had been its sole owner since 1956, the year of his death. ”‘I stood next to him and watched him paint it," she is on record as claiming. "It was a very joyous moment for us both."
But the canvas was unusual according to experts. It was painted on commercial canvas board, a ”geometric design” was detected under its surface, and there were also concerns over its surface pigments.
Though Kligman didn’t mention the work in her 1974 book Love Affair: A Memoir of Jackson Pollock, she included a descriptive passage about Pollock painting the work for her in the 1999 paperback edition. However, elsewhere in the book Kligman acknowledged that Pollock “was not able to paint in the end.” The story is one of those classic Vanity Fair reads with countless twists and turns. Check it out here.