dimanche 17 mai 2015

Pollock's Studio I

BR: When did Pollock begin to use the Springs studio?
LK: We moved out there in November,1945. Pollock started to work in the bedroom upstairs in the house because the barn, which later became the studio, had to be cleared out. It was a mess, filled with lots of rough iron things and some farm implements. Mr. Quinn, the former owner of the house, had something to do with the town roads, so there were all kinds of things in there. You could barely get in, so it was a matter of clearing it out. And that would take time, so he started to work in the house. Pollock's 1947 show was painted in one of the bedrooms upstairs in the house. He painted The Key in the bedroom. I remember because it was in the '46 show.
As you know, he painted on the floor: The Key took up the whole space on the floor. He could barely walk around it. The move into the studio had to follow that, because in addition to clearing it out, we also moved it, to the site it's on now. It was directly behind the house and cut off our whole view. The next show he has is in 1948, and, he had two shows in '49. So it must have been between 1946 and 1947 that the building was cleared out and moved and he began to work in the bigger studio in the bar,.

BR: Was there a change in scale because el Pollock's move of his studio from the bedroom to the barn,
LK: Surely, since his 1950 show had some big paintings. It had One Autumn Rhythm hanging opposite it, Lavender Mist, plus the big black and white that Düsseldorf, the Muriel Newman painting in Chicago which is about the size of Lavender Mist, plus some other big things. However, I want to point out that before we moved out to Springs, when we were living on 8th St., Peggy Guggenheim commissioned the mural which I believe is the largest painting Pollock ever painted. That was in 1943. Incidentally, that's not painted on the floor. Pollock didn't always paint on the floor, although he painted a great deal on the floor. For that mural, we had to rip out a wall and carry out the Plaster in buckets every night. We weren't supposed to live in the building, which we rented from Sailor's Snug Harbor. At any rate, we needed to create a wall large enough to hold the mursl, so we broke down a partition between two rooms. That created a wall long enough for him to get that up on.

BR. Was that Peggy Guggenheim's dimensions or Pollock's?
LK: The mural was a commission from Peggy of a fixed dimension to fit into the hallway I believe. She specified the dimension.

BR: Can you be more specific about the date Pollock began painting in the barn?
LK: In 1949 he had two exhibitions. They were already painted in the barn, so I would say the move took place between '47 and'48. You would see lot of earlier work in the Namuth photographs in the barn because once the barn was cleared out we moved his paintings in. When he took the barn I took the bedroom as my studio. I do know that my mosaic table was done in 1947, before I got the bedroom. I was working in the living room. I remember I moved into the bedroom after the mosaic table was done.
BR: So you think you moved into the bedroom and Pollock moved his studio to the barn in late 1947?
LK: it was probably in 1947, not long after Pollock had his 1947 show.

BR: The first "drip" paintings were made in 1947. Do you think moving into the barn had anything to do with greater physical freedom?
LK: It would be very convenient to think along those lines, but I don't believe that was it. Pollock had a lot more space on 8th St. He wasn't confined to one tiny little room. I think the increase in size has more to do with the fundamental aspects of why he did what he did. He certainly needed the physical space to work as he did, but think he would have found the physical space whenever he was ready to paint with large gestures.

BR: Do you remember how and why Pollock started the "drip" paintings? Did he speak of experimenting with a new technique? When did you first see a "drip" painting?
LK: I can't remember, that is the point. I am always rather astonished when I read of a given date. I actually cannot remember when I first saw them.

BR, Was there a perception that he was entering a new area?
LK: There was certainly a sense of "I never saw this before." There is that feeling. But with Pollock one had a lot of that surprise to deal with.

BR: Did he have a sense of how important the "drip" paintings were at the time?
LK: I can only surmise that, I cannot quote him. I have a feeling that he was aware of their importance.

BR: That they were a "breakthrough"?
LK: I think he was aware of that.

BR: When was the first time you recall seeing him paint on the floor?
LK: He didn't it it when we lived on 8th St. in New York. But, I remember The Key on the floor in the bedroom in 1946. I can't remember him working on the floor in New York, so he must have begun in Springs. I don't have the remotest idea of why he wanted to work on the floor.

BR: Was there any precedent?
LK: The only thing I remember hearing is that he had seen the Indians sand painters working on the ground.  As you know Pollock did not verbalize at all times. He kept things pretty much to himself; occasionally he said something. I only remember hearing about the Indian sand paintings from his in terms of a precedent for working on the ground.

BR: Yet formalist critics discount the Indian influence in order to make him a thoroughly European artist.
LK. Of course he was very aware of European art, but what he identified with was about as American as apple pie. His stories about the Indians -- and he made many trips to the West -- were not European in any sense. In finding this flow of paint, this thrust of paint, this aerial form which then landed, which is his so-called breakthrough, he could merge many traditions of art. You recall he had said in a '44 interview that here in the East, only the Atlantic gave a sense of space that he was accustomed to. He did work with his father, who was a surveyor, in the Grand Canyon, so he really had a sense of physical space. In finding this technique of expressing what he expressed, he merged many things out of his American background which does not disconnect him from tradition and his knowledge of European painting. It was a synthesis.

BR: Was the barn heated at this time? Did you sense any changes in Pollock with the change of seasons?
LK: The barn was not heated at that time. In some early photographs you can literally see between the boards, which means it wasn't insulated or heated. And that means seasonal work.

BR: So he didn't work in the winter?
LK: No, not dead, dead winter, until later on. At one point he got one of those terrible kerosene stoves, and if he was working he would ignite it, which terrified me. A little wooden barn, full of pigment and all sorts of flammable stuff, heated by one of those kerosene pot bellies. You know, with a chimney and a big kerosene container on the bottom. Very frightening.

BR: When he didn't paint, did he draw?
LK: Not necessarily. He really worked in cycles. When he was working, the weather didn't especially stop him. He would put layers and layers of clothing on and would ignite that kerosene thing and work. But there were some months, about three months of the year when it was bitter, bitter cold out there. Otherwise. he could manage somehow or other. He did an enormous amount of work considering that there was no heat in the barn.

BR: Did you feel that temperamentally the seasons had an affect on him out there?
LK: At the time I wasn't aware of it as such. Certainly his relationship to nature was intense. For example, the moon had a tremendous affect on him, and he liked gardening. Just walking on the beach in the winter time, with snow on the sand was exciting. He identified very strongly with nature.

BR: What do you mean by the moon having an affect on him?
LK: He painted a series of moon pictures, and spoke about it often. This is one of the things we had in common, because the moon had quite an affect on me too. It made me feel more emotional, more intense - it would build a momentum of some sort for me. He spoke of the moon quite often. In the explanation of Portrait in a Dream I referred to, he spoke of the “dark side of the moon”. There was a whole series of moon paintings, Moon Woman, Mad Moon Woman, Moon Woman Cuts the Circle.

BR: Do you know where his knowledge of mythology came from?
LK: I think his interest in myth originally stems from one of his high school teachers in California. I can’t remember the man’s name, but he was interested in Eastern philosophy. He introduced him to Eastern philosophy, and consequently he attended many  lectures by Krishnamurti. All of which happened long before I met him. By the time I had met him, he had been in Jungian analysis. That would be more in that direction.

BR: Did he know anything about Indian legends actually?
LK: I know that he used to relate how his father took him on trips where they used to see where the Indians used to live, so he must have had some contact back there. How much he knew of the myths, I don't know. He had the Smithsonian books on the American Indian. I think there were twelve volumes of that, and sin, ho had them I aasume he had road them. In there, he could have dug out myths, if he didn't know of them prior to that.

Barbara Rose: Jackson Pollock at work: an interview with Lee Krasner June 27,1978 found here.