Last week I went to to The Springs, near East Long Island, New York to visit the house that Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner, bought in 1945 for $5,000. Pollock’s art dealer, Peggy Guggenheim, loaned him the down payment of $2,000 in exchange for artwork.
Initially there was only an outhouse when the couple moved into the house in December 1945. Four years later, after Pollock's successful solo show at Betty Parsons Gallery where he made $11,000 (the equivalent of about $100k today), the first thing he did was add indoor plumbing and heating to the house.
Before Pollock used the barn as his studio, he painted in the unheated bedroom upstairs. Krasner also painted inside the house in the studio parlor. They were only allowed in each other’s studios by invitation. In 1946 he moved the barn from behind the house to the north side of the property and started using this space as his studio.
Pollock and Krasner reused everything. They used old masonite game boards given to them by Jackson’s brother as flooring in the barn studio. After Krasner’s death, the boards were removed and the original floor, covered in splattered paint, was visible.
Pollock painted his canvases on the floor and evidence of these masterpieces can be seen on the barn floor. Today, visitors can walk on the floor but must wear special slippers.
The curator told me that Pollock said that “painting wasn’t a problem, the problem is what to do when I’m not painting.” He died in a drunk driving accident in 1956. Lee continued to live in the house and eventually used the barn as her studio. She tacked canvas on the wall and traces of her work can be seen today.
There is only one Jackson Pollock painting in the house. Pollock’s attorney, who received the artwork as payment, donated the artwork after Krasner’s death in 1984.
Krasner and Pollock often invited friends from NYC to visit. Although they enjoyed the company, they entertained primarily as a means stay relevant and current with the New York scene.
Krasner outlived Pollock. Everything in the house is original and intact as it was at the time of her death, including their books and Pollock's record collection. There are still Krasner and Pollock’s books and records in the house. Pollock never listened to music while he painted.
The Pollock Krasner House and Study Center is located at 830 Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton, New York. Tours are available May-October.