Sleeping Under Jackson Pollock’s Roof

An Experience in the Pollock-Krasner house in East Hampton, NY


WNYC Online
I wanted to stay shut in ..I didn’t want to eat perhaps because that would get in the way of the immersive spiritual experience.. I felt guilty taking a shower… it seemed too real and the rest of the place was so shadowy.. I think I wanted to be invisible and to let it come to life that way….

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I walked around touching what they would have touched…the counter tops, opening the oak buffet table, noticing the cracks and the joins in the cheap antique furniture …. I was not interested in the books because people on the tapes said he never read them.. but could pick up info to suggest that he was au courant with culture from bars..the books were gifts they said.. I was pleased I had this insider knowledge

The place felt sexless, cold, lacking in objects that had texture. For painters there was no sense of color design.Even the shells that were placed everywhere seemed unnatural.I was very aware of their financial struggles and much of that was from the tapes. And of his drinking and fighting.

Everyone said how he loved it there in Springs L.I. but this didn’t seem a house that contained a lot of love. I couldn’t either really imagine parties and dinners – and they entertained a lot

I had thought from the film that it was a large house and property but far from it. Realized films don’t show the angularity of a space.. the odd corners, the crooked steps, the bend in the room. Basically downstairs was one room

Part of the house is museumy but in a struggling little museum way so that blends in OK..but even so the museum had made its impact…even though it was very low key. I wasn’t sure whether the museum was right in some of their choices – like why fold the gown on the bed.. she would not have done that surely.. And which were the original arrangements and objects and which had been subtracted or added.

I felt by the next day I lived there and I was indignant that other people were on the grounds. Walked in the bright sunlight to the General Store saw some wading birds.. still wonderful touches of nature.

Here is what I wrote to a friend the next day…. …

“It was an old Sears mattress and a thin coverlet – threadbare. The museum places Lee Krasner’s silk purple gown on the bed. I had to take it off. Holes under the armpits, the slots for the belt broken. Details like this show a sense of neglect of making do. There was a photo of her standing in it in front of her last canvas opposite the bed. And next to it a huge drawing of her in profile looking very Grecian and witchlike – very jolie/laide

It was cold – draughty. I took two blankets out of a cupboard one harsh one soft again old and scruffy. Next to the bed were heavy suitcases with initials JP on the larger and LP on the smaller. So she did use his last name – little other evidence of this.

The room was filled with shells. No real arrangement.

A necklace tree.. long beads for a big bosom. Nothing valuable. A white and silver unimaginative sequined 50’s evening dress hung on the mirror.

I dared myself to look in the mirror because that’s where you expect a spirit.. trying to outsmart them trying to ward them off.

I was aware that all day and night I had been playing loud voices talking about them and if they were around they would have been extremely annoyed by the inaccuracies or false claims of friendship etc. They both had low tolerance thresholds.

I imagined that this room would be very crowded with both of them in it – especially if they were fighting.

I was painfully aware of the modest life they led. This is a beautifully situated house with large open dining area but there really aren’t many windows. It is quite pokey – a little farmhouse. Narrow stairs. Old marble fixtures in cramped bathroom.

Her kitchen had many German delft jars with the same blue windmill. Odd very homey for an abstract expressionist. A few junky antiques.

His record collection crammed onto built in shelf. Portable record player radio and tiny tv. Huge old fridge – was perhaps the best mod con.

No taste in decoration. No feminine touch – she seemed very masculine.

But the property led down to a creek with marshes – his studio a few steps from the back door. Imagine him scampering around with his dogs. The studio was not that well lit.

A barn but not huge. Everything smaller scale than I had expected for 2 such dramatic complex people.

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