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The Persistence of Pollock (with Francois Fiedler)

THOUGH it opened for the season just over a couple of weeks ago, thePollock-Krasner House and Study Center, in the East Hampton hamlet of Springs, has been astir for months because of a signal event: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jackson Pollock, the titan of Abstract Expressionism.

Born on Jan. 28, 1912, Pollock lived in the modest house at 830 Springs-Fireplace Road with his wife, the artist Lee Krasner, from 1945 until his death in a car accident in 1956. He created his most celebrated works in the barn-turned-studio on the property, placing canvases on the floor and pouring or dripping paint onto them with the rhythmic motions that came to be called “action painting.”

“We realized this was a momentous year,” Bobbi Coller, chairwoman of the Pollock-Krasner House’s advisory committee, said of the centenary. “We wanted to mark it in a big way,” both culturally and by getting the museum on a firmer financial footing, she said.

Holding center stage now is “The Persistence of Pollock,” an exhibition of 13 pieces that reflect Pollock’s impact on contemporary artists. The show, with works in a range of media, will run through July 28.

“The Persistence of Pollock” was curated by Dr. Coller, an independent curator with a Ph.D. in art history from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and Helen Harrison, the director — now officially the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw director — of the Pollock-Krasner House.

The exhibition, Ms. Harrison said, emerged from a “skull session” with the advisory committee about a year ago, and was Dr. Coller’s idea. Ms. Harrison agreed that Pollock had a lasting influence on a wide range of artists. “He’s a touchstone,” the director said early this month, as she and Dr. Coller were installing the exhibition. “There are so many ways people can go, starting with him.”

The show includes “examples from every decade since his death,” Dr. Coller added. “So the ‘persistence’ is borne out.”

The earliest piece, from the mid-1950s, is a roiling abstraction by Alfonso Ossorio, a close friend of Pollock’s and collector of his work. Mr. Ossorio, as Dr. Coller writes in the exhibition catalog, “experimented with a freer, allover style” as a result of exposure to his friend’s fluid painting process.

Norman Rockwell and Pollock may not seem a likely pairing, but the realist illustrator channeled the Abstract Expressionist in himself for a 1962 Saturday Evening Post cover that wryly depicted a man staring at a giant Pollock-style canvas. (He was seen from the back, so readers could only guess at his reaction.)

To approximate Pollock’s process for his illustration, Rockwell made numerous trial studies, one of which is on view in this show. (Rockwell entered the study in an art competition under the pseudonym “Percival,” a variation of his middle name, Percevel; he won honorable mention.) A copy of the magazine cover is also on view.

Pollock himself is depicted in several pieces based on the work of Hans Namuth, a photographer who in 1950 documented Pollock’s method. In “Jackson in Action,” a three-dimensional lithograph from 1997, Red Grooms portrayed the action painter with six pop-up arms, all seemingly in motion at once.

Also derived from Namuth are Vik Muniz’s photo homage to Pollock, begun in 1997, which incorporated Bosco chocolate syrup; and Joe Fig’s 2004 mixed-media piece “Namuth’s Pollock #10,” a dioramalike miniature of Pollock at work.

Notwithstanding the macho reputation of the Abstract Expressionists, two women are represented: Lynda Benglis, whose large, 1968 piece “Rumpled Painting/Caterpillar,” of poured pigmented latex, is on the floor of the Pollock studio; and Janine Antoni, whose 1990s performance piece “Loving Care”, in which she used her long tresses in gestural sweeps to apply women’s hair dye to a bare floor, is shown on video.

Also on view are works by Ray Johnson, Lee Ufan, François Fiedler, Robert Arneson, Arnold Chang and Mike Bidlo, the appropriation artist, whose Pollockized woman’s dress (imagine skeins of enamel paint on satin) is on display. Mr. Bidlo will appear at the Pollock-Krasner House on July 15 for “Bidlo Paints a Pollock,” a performance piece.

August will bring a new exhibition, “Men of Fire: José Clemente Orozco and Jackson Pollock,” which runs Aug. 2 through Oct. 27. It is presented in conjunction with the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College and explores the influence of the Mexican muralist Orozco on Pollock’s artistic development.

The date of Pollock’s death, Aug. 11, will be marked by “Poems for Pollock,” a reading by Long Island poets. “The poetry is inspired by him, or by art, and by the environment of Eastern Long Island,” said Rosalind Brenner, an artist and poet from Springs who organized the reading.

All this comes on top of a succession of other centennial tributes and activities. Ms. Harrison, for example, was the guest curator of “Memories Arrested in Space,” an exhibition drawn from the personal papers of Pollock and Krasner — including family snapshots, letters and documents — that runs through June 4 at the Smithsonian Institution’s Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, part of the Archives of American Art in Washington.


A series of parties and events, including the 2012 Stars of Stony Brook Gala last month in Manhattan, attended by Ed Harris, the star and director of the 2000 feature “Pollock,” helped turn the centenary into a “springboard” for major grants and gifts, Ms. Harrison said. Some $5 million has been raised to endow the Pollock-Krasner House and its directorship, and for an endowed professorship in art history, emphasizing the Abstract Expressionists, at Stony Brook University. (The Pollock-Krasner property is owned by the Stony Brook Foundation, a private, nonprofit affiliate of the university.)

There is even a royalty deal with Crocs, the shoe company. In July, Crocs is scheduled to release a clog decorated with a detail from the paint-splattered floor of Pollock’s studio.

Ms. Harrison said she planned to buy a pair: “They do look very cute.”


“The Persistence of Pollock” is at the Pollock-Krasner House, 830 Springs-Fireplace Road, East Hampton, through July 28. Open Thursday through Saturday, by appointment only through May. For reservations: (631) 324-4929. For visiting hours at other times: pkhouse.org.