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Expert’s Quotes Illuminating the Collection

The first question is how such a large collection of paintings created by Jackson Pollock could exist out of the public eye for so long, without knowledge of them by those closest to him, especially his wife Lee Krasner.

But it is precisely upon a close examination of Pollock’s well-documented contentious relationship with Krasner, as well as his affair with Ruth Kligman and other women, that a very plausible explanation emerges.  Pollock resented Krasner’s control, and was dissatisfied with many aspects of their marriage. When Krasner left for Europe in the summer of 1956, they were very close to divorce.

It is easy to imagine Pollock distributing paintings to girlfriends or friends to have a measure of control over his work, as a way to circumvent the control of Krasner. After Pollock died, the official history of Pollock’s life was carefully controlled by Krasner.

“Lee was in control toward the end and very manipulative, just as she was not in favor of books about Jackson she couldn’t control. The rewriting of Jackson’s history has been done on the basis of retelling her story.”  –  Fritz Bultman

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 115. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987. Print.

When Jackson returned from Sag Harbor, Lee hurled her ultimatum: If you don’t stop seeing Ruth, I’ll leave you. Bursting with deluded confidence and White Horse, Jackson flung it back in her face: Go ahead, leave. If she left, she warned, she wouldn’t return. But, for Jackson, there was no going back, too many lines had been drawn. Get out! he screamed.

Naifeh, Stephen, and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, pg 781. New York: Woodward/White, 1998. Print.

“He was having a hell of a time, just desperate for companionship, and Lee was pretty good at bringing him down; she could corner him.”

– James Brooks

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 228. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987. Print.

“(Pollock) was so deeply troubled and so depressed – always spoke about wanting to leave Lee.”

— Grace Borgenicht

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 153. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987. Print.

“I could only take the arguing for one day and went home. It was too intense.”

— Ronald Stein

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 200. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987. Print.

While his marriage with Krasner left Pollock feeling unfulfilled and stifled, he engaged in a famous affair with Ruth Kligman, and also may have had other extra-marital relationships as well.

“Jackson had affairs before and during the years of his marriage, some possibly with older women.”

Friedman, B.H. Energy Made Visible, pg. 232. Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 1995. Print. (originally published in 1972 by McGraw-Hill)

As the winter of 1955 gave way to spring, Jackson said it was nothing to him. “I’ve gone dead inside, like one of your diesels on a cold morning. I need a booster for the self-starter to get me turning over – a sex-starter so my sap will flow.”

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 217. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987.  Print.

Titling and signing works were both difficult for Jackson. “Signing is more than goodbye, it means the picture is fixed in time – it’s done, and there’s death in that. Signing is like lettering on a headstone, saying yours and done.”

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 187. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987. Print

While the official story of Pollock’s life suggests that he wasn’t painting in the last years of his life, considerable evidence exists that Pollock may indeed have been creating new works up until the final days of his life.

Ibram Lassaw, a neighbor and friend of Pollock, reported that he visited Pollock shortly before his death, and said “he was painting huge canvases on the floor…”.

Letter from Ibram Lassaw, 10/27/99

Every morning throughout January and February (1956), he trudged through the snow to the studio and lit the Salamander kerosene stove.

Naifeh, Stephen, and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, pg 755. New York: Woodward/White, 1998. Print.

During the birthday weekend (1/28/56), Smith and Newman dragged Jackson out to his studio and “threw a little paint around” in a transparent effort to strike a creative spark. No one was more obsessed with getting Jackson back to work than Smith. Later that winter, Jackson drove – without Lee – to the Smiths’ house in South Orange, New Jersey and spent most of the weekend in the small gymnasium that Smith used as a studio.…

Naifeh, Stephen, and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, pg 762. New York: Woodward/White, 1998. Print.

Question/Challenge from Conrad Marca-Relli (early 1956): “What’s the biggest painting you’ve ever done?”

“Oh, eight by twenty-two, something like that,” Jackson replied. “You call that big?”, Marca-Relli taunted. “Why don’t you do a really big one? What about forty by sixty?” For a moment, he could see a “sparkle of challenge” come over Jackson’s face. “I’m gonna do it,” he said. “I’m gonna do a big one.” He remembered the gymnasium at Tony Smith’s house in South Orange, and began to make plans to work there.

Naifeh, Stephen, and Gregory White Smith. Jackson Pollock: An American Saga, pg 755. New York: Woodward/White, 1998. Print.

The change from summer to fall (1955) brought change in Jackson. He said that now with the crowds moving back to the City, he’d be able to get some work done.

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 224. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987.  Print.

“Oh, I think Jackson would have disciplined things. He had such a magnificent force and too much creativity still to have gone under.”

— Patsy Southgate

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 277. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987.  Print.

“Jackson was not finished. He had made it impossible for Lee to stay with him, but there is no question that he had every intention of continuing. I don’t think he had any feeling of being finished…..at the end he was still searching.”

— Alfonso Ossorio

Potter, Jeffrey.  To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock, pg. 277. New York: Pushcart Press, 1987.  Print.

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