Jackson Pollock's hi-fi: A work of art?

The Audiophiliac visits Jackson Pollock's house and discovers the abstract expressionist painter had a decent hi-fi.

The Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center. Steve Guttenberg

I visited the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center last week in East Hampton, New York. While I was there learned the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock and his wife, artist Lee Krasner had a pretty cool hi-fi.

Yes, I was there for the art but then I noticed the horn speaker under the stairwell to the second floor of the house. Helen Harrison, the Pollock-Krasner House's Director allowed me to open the door and examine the speaker system in greater detail. She told me the hi-fi was purchased by Pollock in 1954. In the room behind the staircase I spotted a Bogen DB-20 tube amplifier and a Crown (?) turntable I've never seen before. Ms. Harrison assured me the hi-fi still works, but the records that were on hand weren't playable. Oh well.

Left, inside the speaker/door; right, outside view. Steve Guttenberg

Ms. Harrison explained that Pollock loved to play his hi-fi really loud, especially when Krasner was out of the house. Some things never change.

It's also interesting that the inside of the door that supports the horn and woofer originally came from Pollock's studio, which is a separate building from the house. The inside of the door is covered with Pollock's trademark paint splatters, drips, and blobs, probably made while making some of his more famous paintings. That discovery stopped me in my tracks.

When I returned home I immediately rented Ed Harris' Pollock biopic DVD, where he played the tortured master. There's no reference to the hi-fi per-se, other than when in a fit of anger he stops a 78 RPM record from playing. The film's exterior shots were filmed at the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center.

The Audiophiliac ogles Pollock's hi-fi. Steve Guttenberg

Pollock's paintings now hang in museums, but it wasn't until a 1949 article in Life magazine made him famous that his career took off (he had been painting since the 1930s). According to Google, "In November 2006 Pollock's 'No. 5, 1948' became the world's most expensive painting, when it was sold privately to an undisclosed buyer for the sum of $140,000,000. The previous owner was film and music-producer David Geffen." While Pollock was alive he never sold a painting for more than $8,000.

Pollock's studio is well preserved and you can see more of his dribbles and splatters all over the floor. If you're interested in visiting the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Centercheck the website for more info.

 

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