All kinds of celebrities come to Los Angeles when they need a face lift – even paintings. When important canvases start to sag or fade, they check into the Getty Conservation Institute to rediscover the allure of their youth. The difference is, these masterpieces are proud to show off not only the results but also the gory details of the conservation process. Jackson Pollock's Mural has to be one of the most fascinating patients ever to check into the institute for treatment. The first work commissioned from Pollock by iconic art patron Peggy Guggenheim, the mural was completed in 1943 (thank the art-history gods, it was painted on canvas rather than directly onto her foyer wall), and donated to the University of Iowa in 1951. It was first operated on in 1973, and in 2009 became the Getty's patient, arriving here in July 2012. Aside from the technical marvels of the restoration, this particular work is considered one of the most important executed by the famous abstract expressionist – precisely because it is the finest (and rare) example of the crucial transition Pollock made from his earlier, African-inspired, loosely figurative painting to the dramatic, active, game-changing, drip-and-splatter style that made him a star. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the cleaning is the degree to which evidence of that later direction made itself felt in this work. After years of painstaking research and scientific experiments involving everything from the curvature of the stretcher bars to the replication of the random house-paint Pollock apparently favored – not to mention the dynamic and gestural vagaries of the artist's then-evolving style of working – it's finally ready for its close-up. The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; March 11-June 1; free (parking $15). (310) 440-7360,

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 11. Continues through June 1, 2014
(Expired: 06/01/14)

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