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Review: Who the $#%& is Jackson Pollock?

Art docs are the new black.

2.5
Who the $#%& is Jackson Pollock?
Photo: Picturehouse

Art docs are the new black. Who the $#%& is Jackson Pollock? is the latest addition to a growing genre of specialty nonfiction films that includes Who Gets to Call it Art?, Stolen, and Andy Warhol: A Documentary about the stars and connoisseurs of the art world and the mysteries that haunt its labyrinthine hallways. Harry Moses’s film, essentially an episode of Antiques Roadshow spread out to feature length, focuses on a barbarian lingering outside the gates of this bourgeois world: Teri Horton, a 73-year-old woman who bought a painting for five dollars from a thrift store that may be a genuine Jackson Pollock. Self-described experts like Thomas Hoving, former director the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will have nothing to do with Huton because the provenance of her 15-year-old discovery is unknown, even though a forensic scientist was able to link a fingerprint on the back of the painting to Pollock and, later, specks of paint from the canvas to the artist’s studio in Long Island. The spry, insanely likeable Horton, like her rivals, is guided by principle, only Horton’s ambition is neither malicious nor pretentious. Implicit in the way assholes like Hoving condescend to Horton and disregard her great find is a frightening illumination of how the elite empower and protect themselves. Here, all signs indicate that the guardians of the art world would rather lose a crucial addition to their walls than give a former truck driver who lives in a trailer a key to their kingdom. Moses strains to add a biographical sketch of Horton to the film, and a recreation of the phony provenance the woman concocted for the painting is close to desperate, but it’s rare that a documentary’s subjects so readily expose the cracks of their privilege with so little prodding.

Cast: Teri Horton, Tod Volpe, Ben Heller, Nick Carone, John Myatt, Peter Paul Biro, Thomas Hoving, Jeffrey Bergen, Joe Beam, Judy Hill, Teri Paquin, Bill Page, Ron Spencer, Allan Stone Director: Harry Moses Screenwriter: Harry Moses Distributor: Picturehouse Running Time: 74 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2006 Buy: Video

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