Today 76 West Houston is a condominium, but the famous street has have witnessed one of the most well known and controversial artists of the twentieth century. Jackson Pollock moved here with one of his brothers in 1934. The apartment they moved into above a lumber yard was unheated and ran only cold water. At the time, Pollock made his living as a janitor at a nearby school and as ”Stone Cutter” for the Emergency Relief Bureau, an organization created by the Hoover administration to get people back to work. More lofty sounding than it was, his job as a stone cutter was in fact to clean and maintain the statues in public parks – one of those being the statue of Peter Cooper at Cooper Square.
He stayed in this apartment for only about a year, living in different homes throughout the 1930s and early 1940s while he studied art and continued painting. Pollock eventually worked for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project, which supported artists such Mark Rothko, José Clemente Orozco, and Willem de Kooning.
In the early 1940s, Peggy Guggenheim took notice of Pollock’s art and commissioned him to make an 8-foot tall by 20-foot long mural for the entryway of her townhouse. This led to Guggenheim’s patronage of Pollock, which allowed him to paint full time. Then a 1950 spread in Life Magazine catapulted Pollock to fame. Although he was securely established as an artist, the sudden fame caused critics to question Pollock’s authenticity to the point that he himself started to have doubts. Always a troubled man and heavy drinker, Pollock’s marriage unraveled in 1956, and that August he died in a one-car alcohol-fueled accident, killing himself and a fellow passenger.
Pollock explained his art by saying it represented his “inside world.” He said if viewers wanted to see real objects, they could look at them; his art, on the other hand, was motion and energy. His works often have a sense of immediacy, as though they are a direct translation from thought or feeling to paint without the burden of perfection—an appropriate interpretation for art painted in a city that constantly moves with energy.
|1930||Pollock moves to New York|
|1934||Pollock moves to 76 W Houston, an unheated apartment above a lumberyard|
|1935||NYC Emergency Relief Bureau hires Pollock to restore public monuments|
|1943||Pollock earns solo show run by Peggy Guggenheim|
|1945||Pollock moves out of New York but still paints full time|
|link||MoMA - Jackson Pollock Chronology|
|link||The Works Progress Administration (WPA)|
|internal||Jackson Pollock - Wiki|
|internal||Works Progress Administration - Wiki|