Thursday, January 28, 2010

What’s in that crate?

#3: Jackson Pollock One: number 31, 1950

Clothing manufacturer Ben Heller (it was Heller who, after asking Mark Rothko for a discount on a painting he wanted to buy, was famously told "Look, it's my misery that I have to paint this kind of painting, it's your misery that you have to love it, and the price of the misery is $1,350.") purchased Jackson Pollock’s 2.5 x 5.3 metre painting One: number 31 and hung it in his apartment on New York’s Riverside Drive.

The painting was also too large for the wall Heller had selected so a portion of it was rolled over the back of the canvas strainer with Pollock’s permission. Later Heller moved to a park-side apartment with bespoke walls for the work. The only problem was that the crate with the painting inside wouldn’t fit through the door of the apartment so it had to be hoisted inside after the removal of a number of windows. One: number 31 shared the room with two other Pollock paintings, Echo: number 25 and, on the opposite wall, Blue Poles: number 11 that is now in the collection of the Australian National Gallery thanks to James Mollison’s far-sighted purchase in 1973. Closer to home, Julian Dashper made a number of works connected with Blue Poles. One used the original crate Blue Poles was shipped in when sent to Australia; Dashper propped one of his passport photographs against it and later he made a recording in front of the Pollock for his work Blue Circles (1-8). For images of Blue Poles and One in Ben Heller’s apartment, go here
Image: A window of opportunity for Pollock's One: number 31.