Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Story of a Modern Masterpiece, a documentary produced by and created at the University of Iowa, has been nominated for an EMMY by the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
The film was produced and directed by Kevin Kelley, a creative media producer at the UI for thirty years. Photo and video producer Kirk Murray served as director of photography, and creative media specialist Dana Telsrow was assistant editor and animator. Ben Hill, senior director for marketing and communications, was the executive producer. Many UI faculty and staff contributed to the project in various capacities and appear in the film as well.
The unique project came about in 2014 when Kelley, who has produced several documentaries, proposed a long form program to tell the story of this now-iconic work.
“I wanted to just tell the story about the painting Mural and how it got to Iowa and follow all the other events that happened,” says Kelley. “Erika Doss says it best: ‘Mural represents modern art’s mobility.’ It helped launch the abstract expressionist movement. It’s also the most daunting work of his to physically move for an exhibit. The effort that has gone into displaying and restoring it throughout the years definitely deserves remembrance and recognition as well.”
The documentary explores the remarkable journey Pollock’s most influential painting took from New York to Iowa and around the world. Featuring well-known and respected art collectors and scholars, the film examines this powerful work and its enigmatic creator, celebrating the timeless energy of a once-controversial painting now hailed as a keystone of modern American art.
Mural was gifted to the UI by iconic art collector Peggy Guggenheim and delivered in 1951. It was displaced with the rest of the UI Museum of Art’s collection during the flood of 2008, but continues to be displayed at museums all over the world. The painting underwent a two-year restoration and conservation process starting in 2012 at the Getty Conservation Institute and has been traveling the world since. Since 2014, around 1.5 million people have seen the painting at museums throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Mural has two more stops on its U.S. tour after its stint at the Nelson-Atkins comes to an end in October. The painting will be on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for 11 months starting in November 2017, and the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina, in November 2018. After that, Mural is likely to return to the University of Iowa where it will take up residence in the proposed new UI Museum of Art.
Kelley will be doing a Q&A at a showing of the film at the Nelson-Atkins on August 26 as part of the ongoing exhibition at the museum.
The Emmy Awards will be announced Sept. 9 during a gala at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis. Jackson Pollock’s Mural: The Story of a Modern Masterpiece is among five nominees in the “Documentary-Cultural” category.