Pollack Restoration at Seattle Museum of Art is Coming Along

Jackson Pollack's 'Sea Change,' 1947. Jackson Pollack's 'Sea Change,' 1947. Seattle Museum of Art

In the 1970s a coat of varnish obscured Sea Change (1947), an important work by Jackson Pollack that signaled his transition famous drip technique. The Seattle Museum of Art has tackled the restoration of Sea Change, which is a cornerstone of the institution’s collection.

Efforts appear to be going well as reporters and photographers were invited to the museum on Tuesday, November 27, to see the progress firsthand. Led by the museum’s chief conservator, Nicholas Dorman, the undertaking is complicated due to the multiple types of media used by Pollack and the sheer depth of the painting’s surface. Measuring approximately 4 x 5 feet, Sea Change consists of many layers including several types of paint (oil, house and commercial, early acrylic), a white oil base, aluminum paint drips, and imbedded gravel.

In order to preserve the original painting, Dorman had to become as familiar as possible with the work underneath the layer of old varnish. He carefully studied old X-rays of the painting as well as photographs of Pollack at work in order to learn more about the composition itself.

Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project is funding the restoration work on Sea Change. Launched in 2010, the initiative has provided about $2 million to the conservation of art and artifacts of cultural and historical value around the world.

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