A massive 1943 Jackson Pollock painting owned by the University of Iowa and insured for $140 million will be sent to the Getty Center next month to undergo an extensive conservation effort expected to last 18 months.
Republican state legislators in Iowa see potential revenue in the work, called "Mural." Last year, Republican state Rep. Scott Raecker introduced a bill to force its sale, but it was withdrawn amid controversy, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Getty head James Cuno says politics played no role in the decision to take on the painting.
"For us it's an opportunity to preserve an incredibly important work of art," he told The Times. "It's an idiosyncratic painting but very important in the development of Pollock's work. It's a hinge painting in his career, from his early calligraphic paintings to his drip paintings."
The painting is roughly 8 feet tall by 20 feet long. It was commissioned by collector Peggy Guggenheim a few years before Pollock began his so-called drip paintings, his most famous work.
"Mural" sets the stage for this breakthrough -- because of its loose, loopy brushwork and its shift from symbolic to abstract forms, according to The Times. The work was given to the university in 1959.
No one knows its market value, but it is insured for $140 million, The Times reported. Two Getty branches, the museum and conservation groups, have teamed up to work on the painting. Yvonne Szafran, the head of paintings conservation for the museum, told The Times they would try to eliminate the sagging of the canvas at its center and, if possible, remove varnish added after Pollock's death and never intended by the artist. Once conservation is complete, likely in spring 2014, the Getty will display the painting for three months, The Times reported.