Lee Krasner entered the party in her honor like the formidale yet earthy grande dame of American art that she is. Not only is she a noted artist, but she also is the protector of the legacy of her late husband, Jackson Pollock, the most famous of the post-war abstract expesionists whose work changed the way people painted the world over.
The ocassion was the opening of a showing at the National Collection of Fine Arts called "Jackson Pollock: New-Found Works," most of them owned by Krasner.
She is prepared to talk about life with Pollock, but, making a face, only after "someone does something about this drink. Somethins's wrong with it." There is much flurry. And another arrives. "Now, that's better," she declared with relief. "I swear that other one tasted like gin."
When it is ponted out that the program says Pollock was nearly as famed for "his stormy temperament" as for his work, she acknowledged that their lives could be "very difficult."
"We were both playing double roles, painters and spouses at the same time," she recalled. Asked if they kept separate studios at their Long Island Home, she blurted, "And how! We visited each others' only by invitation, and then we watched what we said. We could say just about anything to each other we wanted over the beakfast table or in bed, but the studios were off limits."
The catalyst for this exhibition was the preparation over the last five years and publication by Yale of a definitive Catalogue Raisonne of Pollock's works.
"Getting a complete list, and thus reducing the risk of fakes, had been bothering me ever since he died," said Krasner. Pollock was killed in an auto accident at 44. "Unlike Picasso, for instance, he showed no interest in starting one himself. He wasn't that sort. And, anyway, I don't think he expected to die so young.
I complained about it so much to Gene Thaw of Yale when he visited Long Island that I think he just got tired of listening to me and I took it on, along with Francis O'conner. So at last I have gotten more with my own work. An artist has to be particularly carefully about not wasting time."
As to the work itself, it is avialable in four volomes, for $250.
Krasner's own Pollocks are carefully stored at an undisclosed spot. "There was only one in my house, and it's now here in this show. Soon after his death I let it be known that they were not at the house, because the people would have started coming and coming and coming. And it would have been as difficult to find time for my work as when pollock was alive."
A new krasner show opens in New York early next year. She said, "I'm bringing out some of the things from the late '50s and early '60s."