Monday, August 22, 2011



The names Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner bring to mind a turbulent relationship centered on art, liquor, and clashing egos. A visit to their house in the Hamptons, a place they enjoyed together because it was far from the hum and buzz of the city and city dwellers, was very subdued and curious this summer.

The house is simple, small, and evidence of the fact that they lived frugally while creating a body of work that affected the entire world of art and that is now worth millions of dollars. This is such an old story – we think of Van Gogh and many others who suffered only to enrich dealers and owners – that it remains abstract for most of us. But when you walk into Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner's home and look at the simplicity of their arrangements it becomes more concrete and more moving.

One interesting detail in the main floor living space is a wall installation of a speaker system, a very large midrange fan tweeter above a 12 inch woofer, both baffled by the space under the stairs leading up to the bedrooms. The sound system is an old fashioned tube type amplifier - a Bogen. The turntable is a 1950s style changer and the collection of LPs is relatively sparse. I saw New Orleans style records – Louis Armstrong, some Dixieland, and a variety of swing band music. I did not see much be-bop in the collection even though the film on Jackson’s life emphasizes modern jazz.

Their studio building stands apart, also marked by a rural simplicity. Today it is maintained in more or less the condition it was when they worked there. The floor of the studio is marked with spilled paint and one is now allowed to walk on it only after donning protective booties. Still, one looks down and marvels at its strange beauty. Out of a life time of struggle came a great deal of beauty, even in things left behind.

Lee Krasner continued working in the studio after Jackson died. In the winter she wrapped herself in a warm coat and wore fur lined booties that still stand as evidence of her groundedness in the world of art. I have to admit that I felt moved by what I saw. If ghosts are spirits, I felt the presence of ghosts in that experience.

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