Scope and Content Note
The papers of abstract expressionist painters Jackson Pollock and wife Lee Krasner measure 16.1 linear feet and date from circa 1914 to 1984, with the bulk of the material dating from 1942 to 1984. The collection documents their personal and professional lives, as well as the legacy of Jackson Pollock's work after his death. Found are biographical material, correspondence, writings by Krasner and others, research material, business and financial records, printed material, scrapbooks, artwork by others, photographs, interview transcripts, audio and video recordings, and motion picture film.
The collection is divided into two series, the first of which focuses on Pollock and includes his scattered papers dating from circa 1914 to his death in 1956, as well as Krasner's papers dating from his death to 1984 about managing Pollock's legacy. This series includes biographical materials, including transcripts and audio recordings of an interview with William Wright in 1949; Pollock's and Krasner's correspondence with Thomas Hart Benton, Betty Parsons Gallery, Bill Davis, B. H. Friedman, Reginald Isaacs, Sidney Janis, Violet De Lazlo, Martha Jackson Gallery, Alfonso Ossorio, Tony Smith, and Clyfford Still, and with one another; Krasner's correspondence concerning Pollock's estate and artwork after his death; numerous writings about Pollock, including an original draft of Bryan Robertson's biography and an essay by Clement Greenberg.
James Valliere extensive research files on Pollock for a never-published biography were given to Krasner and filed in Series 1. These include scattered correspondence with Lee Krasner, and Pollock's family and friends, including Charles Pollock, Thomas Hart Benton, and Robert Motherwell. There are also transcripts of interviews Valliere conducted with Pollock's friends and colleagues, including James Brooks, Dorothy Dehner, Clement Greenberg, Reuben Kadish, Lee Krasner, Charles Maddox, Mrs. Sanford McCoy, Daniel T. Miller, Robert Miller, and Tony Smith. The original audio reels and duplicates exist for many and are filed here. Additional interviews were conducted with Willem de Kooning, Alfonso Ossorio, and Burton Rouche, but not transcribed - these are filed in Series 1.10, Audio Recordings and Motion Picture Film.
Also found in Series 1 are scattered business records documenting Krasner's handling of Pollock's estate and legacy; printed materials relating to Pollock, including published biographies, exhibition catalogs, and clippings; two scrapbooks; and a sketchbook by an unidentified artist. Numerous photographs of Pollock include childhood and family photographs, photographs of Pollock in his studio by Hans Namuth, Rudy Burckhardt, and Herbert Matter, photographs of Pollock with Lee Krasner, and exhibition photographs. Audio recordings and motion film in Series 1 include a 1964 16mm film about Pollock (VHS copies are available) and reel-to-reel recordings of untranscribed interviews of Pollock's friends and colleagues by James Valliere, including interviews with Willem de Kooning and Alfonso Ossorio. Additional transcribed interviews are filed in subseries 1.4.
Lee Krasner's papers documenting her own career are arranged in Series 2 and date from 1927-1984. Biographical materials include resumes and awards, school documents, family documentation, and exhibition lists. Her correspondence with artist friends and art colleagues is extensive and includes many letters from artists such as Philip Johnson, Ray Eames, Cleve Gray, and Hans Namuth. She also maintained correspondence with many art historians and critics, curators, gallery owners, collectors, arts-related and social organizations, admirers, and family members.
There are thirteen transcripts of interviews with Krasner by Bruce Glaser, Barbara Cavaliere, Andrew Forge, Emily Wasserman, Barbara Rose, and others. The original audio recordings for these transcripts are filed in series 2.10, along with other audio recordings for which there are no transcripts, including interviews by John Gruen, Delores Holmes, Mercedes Matter, the Martha Dean Radio Show, NBC Today Show, and WQXR radio. There are also audio recordings of Krasner's lectures in series 2.10.
Krasner's papers also include writings and reminiscences by Krasner; writings about Krasner; printed materials such as exhibition catalogs and clippings; and one scrapbook containing clippings and photographs. Numerous photographs are of Krasner, including portrait photographs taken by Hans Namuth; of Krasner with Jackson Pollock and family and friends, and of her exhibitions and artwork.
Users should note that Pollock's and Krasner's papers contain similar types of material that often overlap in subject matter, especially among the correspondence and photographs.