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I WANT TO BELIEVE HER STORY IS TRUE!
on August 14, 2012
UPDATE: 11-08-2013 My faith in Ms. Kligman has paid off. It was announced today that private and reputable labs that work only in authenticating works of art have declared this painting as being Jackson Pollock's final work!!! She was telling the truth all along! Could not be happier!
I knew when I read Lesley M. M. Blume's wonderful article in the Sept. 2012 VANITY FAIR magazine entitled, THE CANVAS & THE TRIANGLE, about the late Ruth Kligman's small Pollock painting, that I would be back 'on' the Jackson Pollock bandwagon. Amazon.com can attest that since reading this story in early August, I have bought just about every Pollock, Krasner book, DVDs and Kligman's personal narrative of their affair.
This VANITY FAIR piece centers around a small painting that Ms. Kligman (in her later years) passed off as an authentic Pollock. She claimed he painted this, with her watching, during their time together shortly before his death. It is up for auction soon and no one can authenticate it. The painting in question is on the cover of Ms. Kligman's book. It certainly looks like a Pollock. When I first saw the painting, it immediately reminded me of his work, The Wooden Horse #10A, painted in 1948. There are a lot of similarities in the two.
As I said in my title, I want to believe this is authentic. I want to believe her story is true, as well.
The book is a quick read. You won't be bothered by the history of art in America, or talk about which artist shows at what gallery. She's young, she's pretty, ambitious, doesn't feel like one of the real people 'cause she wasn't born a WASP. Or something like that. She works part-time at a nothing art gallery in NYC. She studies art at night. Wants to meet only the top artists. Someone turns her on to the Cedar Tavern Bar in the Village. It's where all the art stars hang out.
Pollock, who is living on Long Island, comes to the city (Manhattan) on Monday to see his shrink. Uh, what? As luck would have it, this young lady ALSO sees her shrink but four times a week! We are never told WHY she has to see a shrink that often, but we assume her life is a mess. OK?
She goes to the Cedar Bar one Monday and meets Pollock. The rest, as they say, is history. She calls him at the bar the following Monday and he is so thrilled and delighted to hear from her again, 'cause she didn't give him her telephone number, that he rushes right over to her apartment. Of course they fly into bed. And they aren't even on a date!
Time flies by quickly and whamo! Pollock has decided that he wants to marry her and have a child with her. Lee Krasner, his wife, the woman who put him on the map? Don't worry about Lee. She will understand. I'll give her a big settlement and we can all three live together. Lee can live in the small house next to where they currently abide as husband and wife! You will live with me in the big house that Lee slaved over for decades. She'll understand.
Well, big surprise, Lee Krasner Pollock does NOT understand and chews the paint off the wall when she learns of Ms. Kligman. 'It's her or me, Pollock," she screams. He's kinda confused now, so this is a perfect time for Lee to go to Europe for the summer. Let lover boy remain at the house to figure out what the next step is.
Ruth moves into the house recently vacated by Lee. She can't cook, by the way. They eat out every night. Jackson does the cooking when they stay home. But, she's great in the sack, so that momentarily makes up for her lack of cooking skills. He foolishly takes her to a party at the home of Clement Greenberg, Lee Krasner's dear friend. And, guess what? Everyone at the party totally ignores Ruth! Didn't see that coming! Wow.
Fast forward a bit. Ruth realizes none of Pollock's friends will ever accept her. Lee Krasner is never going to divorce Pollock. He has become so obsessed with her that she lies to him to get a two day vacation from him in NYC. Her shrink, who has been in Europe for the summer, has returned. Only, of course, this is a lie. She is now torn. She wants to ditch Pollock and get on with her life, but he is soooo neeedy!!! She invites her good friend (from her hair salon) Edith Metzger, to return with her for the weekend. And, we all know what transpired next. Pollock drinks gin all day, goes off the rail mentally, and kills himself and poor innocent Edith in a car accident. Klingman somehow survives to tell the story for the rest of her very long life. Whew.
Only recently did I learn that, after Pollocks demise, she went on to bed De Kooning, as well. I don't know what they called this back in the 50s, but in the 60s we called women like this 'star _____' and 'groupies.'
In this book we finally see Jackson Pollock as a human being. He is not an artist, drunk, emotionally disturbed, or all the cliches that have been used to describe him over the ages. He is a flesh and blood, heavy breathing, sexy man in love. And Ms. Kligman is the object of his affections.
In Ed Harris's film POLLOCK, Ruth appears in the last ten minutes (if that) of the film. No explanation. No teaser of what's to come. Wham. There she is being picked up at the train station in the Hamptons by Pollock in his flashy, hot-to-trot roadster. You are left in limbo concerning the depth and origin of their affair as the credits roll.
I was surprised to learn in the first chapter that she met the great Broadway producer, David Merrick. And, I might add, slept with him on their first date. But, of course, Merrick was no Jackson Pollock! She had her sights set pretty high.
There is no doubt that she thought very highly of herself as a great beauty. She says as much in the book. However, in all honesty, she was a real Liz Taylor look-alike. Stunning. In later life, appearing in various Pollock documentaries, she talks through clinched teeth. Was this a result of her automobile accident with Pollock? Strange to watch.
The film I want to see made (listening, Mr. Harris?) is a sequel to POLLOCK. I would love to see Lee Krasner's life on film. Marcia Gay Harden could reprise her role as Lee, and we could see her life play out as artist, wife and widow. I truly hope, in my lifetime, this comes to pass. Gail Levin's bio on Ms. Krasner is a joy to read. Simply outstanding. Buy it!
If you admire Pollock and Krasner (and the art scene of the 50s) you will enjoy reading this book. It humanizes Pollock in a way no other book has. You come away happy knowing that, in his final months of life, he was truly in love. There are biographies on Pollock that claim after two weeks with her he was sending Lee roses in Europe trying to win her back. According to the authors, he could not live without Lee. I have to believe that at the moment of his violent death, he was in love with Ruth. Otherwise the book is meaningless.
January 2012 was his 100th birthday. He endures.