Weekly Roundup: Jackson Pollock Masterpiece Reveals Drip Paintings’ Secret and More


In case you missed it, here’s what made headlines in the art world this week:

Jackson Pollock masterpiece reveals drip paintings’ secret
Alchemy, a large scale painting that Jackson Pollock painted in 1947, has returned to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice after going through an extensive conservation. An in-depth study of the painting, whose appearance had been dimmed by dirt accumulated over the years, yielded a sensational breakthrough: experts discovered that Pollock had used a structural plan to paint it. It had been previously believed that the composition was made up of random spatters and drops, but the analysis revealed delicate traces of white paint devising a sort of grid structure, which Pollock had created as a means of compositional guidance. Since last Saturday, Alchemy is back on display in Venice without any glass protection. [artnet news]

Princeton gets a $300 million trove of rare books
Princeton University has announced the largest gift in its history: a trove of rare books valued at nearly $300 million, including a Gutenberg Bible, an original printing of the Declaration of Independence, all four of Shakespeare’s Folios, and significant musical manuscripts written by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Wagner. The roughly 2,500-volume collection was bequeathed by philanthropist William Scheide, who died in November at age 100. The Scheide collection, which is being digitized, will remain a distinct collection with Firestone Library, where it will be relocated to a new space as part of the library’s current renovation. [New York Times]

Sotheby’s acquires stake in vintage car seller RM Auctions
Sotheby’s and RM Auctions have announced the formation of a new strategic partnership, RM Sotheby’s, in which Sotheby’s will acquire a 25 percent ownership interest in the car-auction company, with the opportunity to increase its stake. Sotheby’s has collaborated with RM on sales in the past, in both Europe and the US, such as the November 2013 Art of the Automobile auction in New York, which drew nearly $63 million in two hours. The first RM Sotheby’s sale will take place in Amelia Island, Florida, on March 14. [ARTNEWS]

Employee at Russia’s Hermitage arrested for stealing books and documents, some centuries-old
An employee at Russia’s Hermitage Museum was arrested for stealing books and documents, some centuries-old, from the institution’s celebrated collection and then trying to sell them to antique dealers. The man, who worked in the the library of the Saint Petersburg museum, was taken into custody on February 13th in connection with a probe launched after items were found missing during an inspection last month. Several engravings, lithographs, photographs and books dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries and belonging to the Hermitage library were found at the worker’s home as well as with a friend of his and at a St. Petersburg antique shop. The stolen items have since been restored to their place in the museum. [Artdaily]

Sotheby’s ‘perfect’ 100-carat diamond could fetch $25 million
Sotheby’s has announced that a rare emerald-cut 100.2-carat perfect diamond will lead its ‘Magnificent Jewels’ sale on April 21 in New York. The stone is just one of six diamonds over 100 carats and comparable-quality ever to be sold at auction, and is estimated between $19 and 25 million. According to Sotheby’s jewelry experts, the stone was recently mined sometime during the last decade by De Beers and originated in Southern Africa. The original uncut, rough stone weighed in at over 200 carats.Sotheby’s will show the diamond in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and Doha before it returns for a New York exhibition opening April 17th. [New York Observer]

French museums spar over Goya paintings
A small museum in southwestern France has just gained a Goya thanks to a new authentication that’s left a different French museum with a mere copy. The Musée Bonnat in Bayonne has long attributed to painting Self-Portrait with Spectacles to Francisco Goya, but it wasn’t until a recent ruling by restorers from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France that it was confirmed as a work by the Spanish master. The Musée Goya in Castres, about four hours east of Bayonne, whose version of the same painting has now been demoted to the status of a copy that Goya painted after the Bayonne picture. [Hyperallergic]

Image: Detail of Jackson Pollock, Alchemy, 1947