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Jackson Pollock’s Old Stomping Grounds

On Thursday evening, Village Preservation and the New School for Public Engagement hosted a lecture titled, “Jackson Pollock’s Downtown Years” given by art historian and MoMa educator Larissa Bailiff.  While we can’t recount the entire amazing lecture to you (you’ll have to wait until a video of the event is available!), we can highlight some Village locations that were discussed as past haunts of Mr. Pollock.

Pollock’s 1943 painting, She Wolf, his first work purchased by MoMa

Shortly after relocating to New York City, in 1935 Pollock settled into a Greenwich Village apartment at 46 East 8th Street with his Brother Sande, with whom he would live until 1942 when his love Lee Krasner moved in. This floor-through studio, located between Greene and Mercer Streets, was only $35/month.  Unfortunately, the building Pollock lived in has since been demolished and replaced.

In 1931, Jackson Pollock, in need of money for food and rent, decided to set up his artwork on the sidewalk near Washington Square Park (this would become known as the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit).  Willem de Kooning soon joined him.  This public display attracted the attention of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Alfred H. Barr Jr, Director at MoMa.  82 years later and this arts exhibit is still going strong.

circa 1950 photos of the Washington Square Art Show (Nat Kaufman collection, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)

The famous Cedar Tavern was the number one hangout for New York School artists like Pollock, de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, and Franz Kline, just to name a few.  They gathered here at least every other night to drink, socialize, and discuss art.  In fact, it is often said that it was here that Abstract Expressionism was born and bred.    The tavern changed locations several times, but in 1945 it moved to 24 University Place, where it experienced its heyday.  Pollock and the like were fond of the Cedar for its cheap drinks (15 cents a beer, to be exact) and unpretentious location on then off-the-beaten-track University Place.

L: a 1959 photo of the Cedar Tavern at 24 University Place (image courtesy of John Cohen/Getty); R: the same location today

Around 1948 this group of Village artists began to hold weekly meetings at 35 East 8th Street (it would later move to number 39) that included panel discussions and lectures.  This became known as “The Club” and was extremely influential in the lives and careers of the New York School artists.

Jackson Pollock’s world famous cover/spread in LIFE magazine

If you’d like to watch the entire lecture by Larissa Bailiff, check back to Village Preservation’s Past Events Page where we will upload the video.  And if you’re interested in attending another one of our exciting upcoming programs click here!

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