Reflections on Jackson Pollock’s 100 Years
by michael braverman
Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950
|Pollock’s studio remains frozen in time|
|The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center|
In 1956, during one of the troubled periods of their marriage, while Krasner escaped to Europe, a drunken Pollock crashed his Oldsmobile into a tree about a mile from the house, killing himself and one of the two passengers, Edith Metzger (his mistress at the time, artist Ruth Kligman, survived). Pollock was 44 years old. In December of that year, the first major Pollock retrospective opened at the Museum of Modern Art. In the following years, Krasner went on to produce her best work in that same studio while shrewdly handling her husband’s estate. She died in 1984, directing that the house and studio be preserved. The home and studio is now considered among the nation’s most important art-related landmarks, and the estate is an internationally recognized cultural heritage site.
Pollack's 100 Years
The biggest of the centennial observances will be a benefit for the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center on April 25, hosted by Stony Brook University at Chelsea Piers, with actor Ed Harris as the guest of honor. Harris transformed himself into Pollock—putting on weight, chain smoking, and sleeping in the actual house—when he directed and acted in the 2000 biopic Pollock. Harris was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance, and Marcia Gay Harden won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her portrayal of Krasner. In the process, Harris became—and remains—one of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center’s most ardent supporters. The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, a separate organization, has offered a $1 million challenge grant with the aim of establishing an endowment. Sotheby’s New York will host a private reception and one-day exhibition of Pollock works, lent by private collectors in the New York area.
The first of the centenary exhibits at the house, opening in May, will be "The Persistence of Pollock," showing works associated with or inspired by the artist, co-organized by Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center director Helen A. Harrison and art historian Bobbi Coller. This will be followed in August by "Men of Fire: José Clemente Orozco and Jackson Pollock." The bold murals of Orozco, the Mexican social realist, had an important creative influence on Pollock. The exhibit will include works by both men, lent by public and private sources, with the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth, the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York chief among them.
There will no doubt be many articles and much commentary on Pollock around the art world as his birthday approaches, even on the other side of the globe: The exhibition "Jackson Pollock: A Centennial Retrospective" opens at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art in Nagoya, Japan, in November and travels to the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo in February. But here, at the house itself, the January 28 observance will be simple and small, and suitable: an intimate screening of the film Pollock.
Pollock Krasner House & Study Center, 830 Springs-Fireplace Road, East Hampton, 324-4929
photography courtesy of National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 1973 © 2011 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, GEORGE A. HEARN FUND, 1957 (57.92) © 2011 THE POLLOCK-KRASNER FOUNDATION/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK (AUTUMN RHYTHM); HELEN A. HARRISON (HOUSE EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR).
OPPOSITE: TONY VACCARO/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES (POLLOCK WITH PAINTING); WILFRID ZOGBAUM (KRASNER)