Have you ever seen the documentary “Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?” The story is about a female truck driver who purchases a painting at a thrift shop for only $5 before later finding out that the painting could be an authentic painting from the artist Jackson Pollock himself.
Determined to prove the authenticity of the painting, the woman took the painting to art dealers who dismissed the painting as a fake. The woman went on to hire Peter Paul Biro, a forensic art expert who successfully matched a fingerprint on the painting in question to a fingerprint on a paint can in Jackson Pollock’s studio, deeming the painting authentic. This process brought forth some interesting debates and criticisms about fingerprint and DNA tests.
Criticism about Peter Paul Biro’s methods
Although the idea of utilizing fingerprint and DNA analysis to authenticate a painting seemed like a possible practice at the time, The New Yorker has since published an article that has criticized Peter Paul Biro’s techniques and character. According to the Art Experts, “There is no painting anywhere, in any museum in the World that has been confirmed to be by a certain artist using DNA testing.” Biro had originally claimed to have revolutionized the process of art authentication after finding hair follicles on one of the paintings that resembled that of Jackson Pollock’s. Art Experts has never seen such questionable methods that Biro utilized to declare the Pollock painting an original and the New Yorker was also skeptical.
The New Yorker’s article accused Biro of planting evidence such as fingerprints to promote his name and business. A thorough analysis of the questionable paintings by fingerprinting expert Pat Wertheim provided new insight into the matter. One of the paintings had two fingerprints of the same irregularities – an extremely rare attribute of fingerprints. Also, a deeper look into Biro’s background uncovered past lawsuits filed against Biro for art forgery.
As the debate of whether or not Peter Paul Biro has discovered a way to utilize DNA and fingerprint analysis to authenticate paintings goes on, it brings us to the process of using DNA for security marking.
DNA ink to mark future artwork
The idea is to protect created artwork and other prized possessions with an unnoticeable DNA ink. This form of DNA steganography inserts ink containing DNA into your assets without endangering the quality of them. Companies have been using this form of DNA security to protect themselves from thefts and forgeries. In fact, this practice was used in the 2000 Sydney Olympics to protect brand merchandise from counterfeits.
The same technique can be used on future artwork so that the authenticity of the item is never in question. If only the artists of the past had this technology available to them.
What do you think of the Peter Paul Biro investigation? Do you believe he planted fingerprints? Will DNA security marking make its way into art galleries all over the World?
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