We visited the Pollack-Krasner home this past August. It is a
slightly renovated, still barely uninsulated, 19th Century fishing house walking distance from Acabonic Harbor in East Hampton, NY. The view from the house was quite calming. The air balmy with a touch of cooling breeze.
It was bought by two married painters, Jackson and Lee, in October 1945 when the surroundings were nothing more than back country. A wooded maze of old roads by water. That was before the movie stars and the moneyed came. We were told they would arrive just after the winter thaw and stay to the early autumn breezes. Mostly, the calendar pulled them away. But there were few rules. And then there was the barn. Work. Always work.
These two knew very few constraints. They lived all at once, in layers. And that, of course, is the story. The end. Layers. Of living and hiding from life. Of paint and pain. Of selling work and alcohol. Of fame, so close you can taste it. The ambiguity to the fame, until it was mature, and different. Maybe less passionate and less well-paying. And then there was the faith, Lee’s mostly. Seeing what WOULD become of the work. And selling it for millions, decades after the famous car crash. One sold recently for over $54,000,000.
The Studio Today (pan shot)
The antagonist, the 26 year old other woman, Ruth Kligman, fought the rest of her life to prove she possessed a genuine Pollack given to her by the man, know as “Red, Black and Silver.” It is still a hot topic of the debate. Perhaps a bit desperate. Last year a polar bear hair yes (really) was found in the painting that matched that of a rug of Pollacks’ in the Springs house.
How it all came together and fell so widely apart is the story of legends and life. How a student of Thomas Hart Benton could paint so differently, radically and wildly… another mystery. How liquid paint, a technique Pollack learned in 1936 at an experimental workshop in New York City by the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueros, would alter the art world. Another layer. Another layer…
Jackson at work in the barn