Working With a Masterpiece

After a yearlong stint at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Jackson Pollock’s 20-foot-wide Mural has made its way to Columbia, S.C. The 1943 painting, commissioned by Peggy Guggenheim, marks a significant turning point in Pollock’s career and carries an estimated value of $140 million.

Carolina Conservation was fortunate enough to play a part in the installation of this momentous piece in the Columbia Museum of Art. Three of our staff members helped remove the painting from its crate, transport it to the exhibition space and mount it to the wall. Our lead Paintings Conservator, Jennifer Bullock, also helped the museum’s registrar assess the painting and record the condition on the incoming loan condition assessment form. Additionally, she was able to take pictures of the areas of concern on the painting that will be included in the assessment.


Jennifer saw firsthand the treatments that have been carried out and how the painting has been stabilized for the future by evaluating the outgoing loan assessment. This document is a record for the University of Iowa, the current owner of the painting, which shows each conservator or registrar’s notations every time the work changes locations. The painting is part of an international tour through England, Germany and Spain, as well as other American museums, requiring the document to accompany the work each time it moves to ensure stable conditions.

The work underwent several treatments that included varnish removal and a stretcher replacement at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Conservation Institute in July 2012. It was there that the revelation was made that Pollock took weeks to complete the artwork, as opposed to a single day, which was previously considered the case. The 1943 work, which was created with oil and casein on canvas, demonstrates Pollock’s groundbreaking (and now trademark) artistic applications. Pollock’s largest work spans the entirety of two galleries and will eventually be housed in the University of Iowa’s future art museum.

Mural can be viewed at the Columbia Museum of Art from now until May 19, 2019.