When they first lived here, both artists worked inside the house. Lee had a studio area in the back parlor, and Jackson painted in an unheated upstairs bedroom. In June 1946, he had the barn moved from behind the house to the north side of the property and renovated it as his studio. Lee continued to work in the house until after Jackson’s death, when she began using the barn studio.
Initially the house had no central heating or indoor plumbing. Over time the couple made many improvements—one of the earliest was a back porch extension that accommodated an indoor toilet. They removed interior walls, closed off windows and doors, painted the walls and floor white, and created an open, loft-like space on the ground floor. The house originally had a clapboard finish, which they painted white, with blue shutters. In December 1949, after Jackson’s very successful solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery, they had enough money to install full plumbing and central heating, and in the spring they had the house shingled.
After Jackson’s death in August 1956, Lee divided her time between Springs and New York City. She painted many of her major canvases in the barn studio between 1957 and 1982, after which ill health curtailed her productivity. She died in New York Hospital in June 1984.
The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center was created under the terms of Lee Krasner Pollock’s will. She instructed her executors to deed the property to a charitable institution. She envisioned it as “a public museum and library,” to show the setting in which she and Jackson created many of their works, and as a place for the study of modern American art, especially the eastern Long Island art community.
In 1987 the property was deeded to the Stony Brook Foundation, a private, non-profit affiliate of Stony Brook University. In preparation for interpreting the house and studio as the artists’ living and working environment, it was learned that a new surface had been applied to the studio floor in 1953, during a major renovation in which the building was winterized. When that covering was removed, the original floorboards were found to be intact, complete with the remnants of Jackson’s most famous poured paintings, including Autumn Rhythm (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Convergence (Albright-Knox Art Gallery), Blue Poles (National Gallery of Australia) and Lavender Mist (National Gallery, Washington DC).
The painted surface was stabilized by a team of art conservators, and an exhibition of photographs and text panels chronicling the two artists’ careers was installed on the walls, where remnants of Lee’s dynamic gestural paintings, including Gaea (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Siren (Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden) and Portrait in Green (Pollock-Krasner Foundation) are evident.
The museum was opened to the public in June 1988.
Jackson Pollock in the barn studio, at work on Alchemy, 1947.
Photograph by Herbert Matter.
Lee Krasner in the bedroom studio, at work on a Personage painting, 1950.
Photograph by Hans Namuth
The living room in about 1970.
Pollock-Krasner Papers, Archives of American Art.
Jackson Pollock behind the house, ca. 1947.
The back porch extension at the left was built for an indoor bathroom.
Photograph by Ronald J. Stein.