Jackson Pollock’s Art Studio
In East Hampton, before the town was popular and yuppie and expensive, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner built a home and art studio. It was wild country back then in 1945 – a town made up of fishermen and a very small group of fellow artists. Krasner moved her husband here to get him sober and away from the influences of his partying art world friends in New York City; she also wanted him to simply concentrate on his work. Now, in the summer months only, you can visit the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center to walk across his paint-splattered studio floors and wander the rooms of his small home.
Jackson Pollock was an abstract expressionist, meaning that he painted what you could not recognize. The goal of expressionism is to paint from within. A painting of a peony in bloom, for instance, is not as good as the real thing, so as Pollock put it, “I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them.”
Pollock’s studio is a converted storage barn where he painted from 1947-1956. After his death, Krasner used it from 1957-1982. Pollock would lay out a canvas or a piece of pressed wood on the floor, prepare it with a coating of glue or primer, and apply the paint from above. He applied liquid paint with sticks or hardened brushes, not actually touching the canvas but drawing shapes in space just above it. He also used basting syringes from the kitchen filled with paint to create lively squirts and splashes. The barn studio floor is covered with evidence of this process, because the paint often flew past the edges of the canvas. While Pollock was working in the barn, Lee Krasner had her studio in a spare bedroom inside the house. The room was small, but it had good light and it gave her privacy, which was important to both artists. They visited each other’s studio by invitation, and only gave an opinion on work in progress when asked for it. The couple were also collectors of little objects. They were not wealthy by any means, but enjoyed picking up shells from the beach and little items from yard sales. I was quite charmed by Lee’s collection of shells on her bedroom windowsill and the buxom shell figurine. I want it. The best part of this tour, without a doubt, was our guide Myrna Klein. She was so clearly enamored with the history of the house and studio and she was a great storyteller. The more questions for Myrna the better. Myrna for President!Me and Sidekick Lindsay visited during the rain, and after the tour the sun shone so beautifully. We wandered the grounds of the house where all the trees were in bloom with little pink petals. Because they were slightly wet, they stuck to our shoes and we trailed pink petals wherever we went for the rest of the day.
These small, unpretentious buildings where both artists created their masterpieces are now a monument to their shared devotion to abstract expressionism. The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center is open May – October (the studio is unheated so it closes in winter) and tickets are only $10 for a great tour! I recommend calling ahead for an appointment.