If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:2:48

Video transcript

We're in front of Jackson Pollock's <i>One: Number 31, 1950</i> We're working on this painting to restore it and there will be several steps to that restoration. The first steps are the cleaning of the surface. This has included dry cleaning with dry sponges. We're now at a stage in the process where we are surface cleaning it with moistened swabs. <i>One: Number 31</i> came into the collection in 1968 and this is the first time that it will be surface cleaned so there is a good bit of embedded grime on the paint layer. In 1998 when the museum had a significant Jackson Pollock retrospective we were able to look at this painting in the context of others from 1950. There were some differences in the way this painting looked and we wanted to understand more about his materials and techniques. We used X-radiography to look at detail shots of areas of paint that looked very different from what we're typically seeing across Pollack's surface. We found areas of cracking that revealed some restoration had taken place, covering over original paint. We looked at the painting under ultraviolet light in order to distinguish original paint media from restoration media. In this case we took samples from the original painting to find out what the medium was that Pollock was using and then samples from what we deemed to be 'overpaint' to see what the medium of those passages of paint were. The Overpaint passages were a completely different paint. They were made from a different resin, and thus further confirmed the fact that these were added at a later date. The final piece of evidence was the discovery of some photographs from 1962 when the painting was on tour in the US. Those photographs show certain passages where, in fact, the painting has been changed. Those changes correspond to areas that we find to be the Overpaint, that are different both in ultraviolet light and the medium analysis that we did. The restoration paint and Pollock's paint are two very different resins, and because they are, we are fortunately able to chemically separate these two layers without causing damage to the original layer. As you go across the surface inch-by-inch and get to know all the different textures and the different ways that Pollock manipulated the paint. You understand how well this artist knew his materials and how to manipulate his materials. It gives you a real appreciation for what he was working on.