A large painting owned by the University of Iowa is on an international tour, with its latest stop being the Columbia Museum of Art in South Carolina, where the curator is an Iowan.
Catherine Walworth says Peggy Guggenheim commissioned Jackson Pollock to paint “Mural” for her New York apartment in 1943. The painting is Pollock’s largest, at eight-by-20 feet, and she says it “catapulted him into the spotlight.”
“I’m very much into the life the painting has led — of adventure and squabbling,” Walworth says. “It’s led a very fascinating life as an object. I’m planning to focus on Iowa and why Peggy Guggenheim would have given it to the University of Iowa and really share some of my pride in that.”
Walworth grew up in Burlington. Her mother still lives there and told Walworth all about the 2008 flood that forced “Mural” out of its home at the U-I. The painting was rescued from the U-I art museum shortly before the building was inundated by high water. Coincidentally, Walworth moved to Columbia in the spring of 2016.
“They had a terrible flood just the fall before in 2015 so it was very much on my mind and I was thinking of what exhibitions to take and I thought about whose collections are on the road,” Walworth says. “Then, I thought about the flood and I checked in and there was the Pollock, so it was a perfect happenstance.”
The painting — which may be worth as much as $150 million — will be on display in Columbia until mid-May, then it’ll head to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Eventually, “Mural” will have a new home in the University of Iowa’s yet-to-be-built art museum.
(By Michelle O’Neill, WVIK, Rock Island)