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Jackson and Lee, August 1953: Photographs by Tony Vaccaro
Jackson and Lee. Photograph by Tony Vaccaro.

EAST HAMPTON, NY.- In August 1953, on assignment for Look magazine, the photographer Tony Vaccaro visited Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner at their home in Springs. He photographed the two artists in the house and the barn studio, where the couple chatted with neighbors and Pollock discussed his paintings in progress. The Look article was never published, and color film from the photo shoot that was turned over to the magazine’s editor has been lost. Fortunately Vaccaro kept the black and white film, from which the 21 prints in this exhibition are taken. Few of them have been published, and many have never before been printed. They complement the small selection of Vaccaro’s images on view in the permanent exhibition inside the Pollock-Krasner studio.

Although his pictures have appeared in publications worldwide for more than 60 years, he is primarily known for his images of World War II. While serving in the U.S. Army’s 83rd Infantry Division in Europe, he became an official photographer for the division's newspaper. After the war, he worked first as a photographer for the U.S. authorities and later for Stars and Stripes. He continued to document post-war life in Europe until 1949, when he returned to the United States and began working for Life, Look and Flair magazines, photographing many prominent figures in politics, business and the arts. A book of his wartime photographs, Entering Germany: Photographs 1944-1949, was published in 2001.

The House
Built in 1879, the house is typical of the 19th century farmers’ and fishermen’s homes in Springs, a hamlet in the Town of East Hampton. Pollock and Krasner made many changes to the building after moving there. It contains all the furnishings and artifacts that were in the house at the time of Krasner’s death in 1984, some of which were there during Pollock’s lifetime, including his hi-fi phonograph, his jazz record collection, and the artists’ personal library. An original late 1930s painting by Pollock, Composition with Red Arc and Horses, and prints by both artists are on display. The house also features changing exhibitions of artwork related to the Study Center’s mission.

The Studio
Originally built to store fishing equipment, the small barn once stood directly behind the house, where it blocked the view to Accabonac Creek. Pollock had it moved before converting it as his studio. In this modest building, without heat or artificial light, he painted his most famous poured paintings. He preferred to lay the canvas on the floor and walk around it, applying liquid paint from all four sides in a process of spontaneous creativity.

The studio floor is covered with evidence of this singular process. It documents the evolution of Autumn Rhythm, Convergence, Blue Poles and many of his other masterpieces painted between 1946 and 1952, after which the building was winterized. During that renovation, the floor was covered with a new surface, which protected the colors and gestures that had spilled over the edges of his canvases. That covering was removed in 1987-88, revealing the evidence of Pollock’s most productive and innovative years.

After Pollock’s death in 1956, Krasner began to use the barn studio, and worked there for the rest of her life. She preferred to tack her canvases on the walls, where the lively gestures and brilliant colors found in her expressive abstractions are still visible. An exhibition of photographs and text panels outlines both artists’ lives and careers, and their tools and materials are on display.

Tony Vaccaro | Jackson Pollock | Lee Krasner |

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