The last monumental abstract painting by American artist Jackson Pollock, Blue poles became part of Australia’s emerging national art collection in 1973 amid much controversy.
Painted four years before the artist’s death in 1956, the purchase price of US$2 million (then equivalent to A$1.3 million) set a new record for Pollock and was, at the time, the most expensive American painting ever sold.
Directed by Alison Chernick, this new documentary looks beyond the sensationalism of the global headlines of the day, exploring how the purchase of this masterpiece heralded a new era of art in Australia, positioning the national collection on an international field and contributing immeasurably to Australia’s cultural heritage.
The documentary highlights the enduring legacy that the late Ben Heller, art dealer and close friend of Pollock, leaves to the people of Australia through his role in the acquisition of Blue poles by the National Gallery of Australia.
“If you think of what Jackson did, he has made this museum. In this case, a nation’s life...” This defining moment also owed much to the late James Mollison, the inaugural director of the National Gallery of Australia, whose brave and insightful acquisition helped change the cultural trajectory of a nation. “It is certainly, perhaps, the most important American picture – perhaps in all time.”