Photo credit: Robyn Lea
Photo credit: Robyn Lea

When you think of Jackson Pollock, what comes to mind?  For me, it’s not the image of a man who would be found in the kitchen alongside fellow painter and wife Lee Krasner, kneading dough to make rye bread or even apple pie, a recipe for which he’d regularly win first place in the local pie baking competition.

More widely known is that the artist — who’d drip paint from knives or sticks while frantically moving around the canvas — struggled greatly with alcoholism, undergoing treatment and achieving two years of sobriety before falling off the wagon and ultimately dying at the age of 44 when he crashed his car while driving drunk.

Yet the handwritten recipes found at the couple’s home by Robyn Lea, Australian photographer and author of Dinner With Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art & Nature, reveal a person who enjoyed cooking, gardening, and fishing. “In growing and making food, he not only found a source of contentment, but also a connection to his upbringing in Wyoming, where he was raised on a farm“, Lea remarks.

“He painted the same way he cooked: Endlessly using leftovers; keeping and re-using; trying one color or shape and then another. There was never ever any waste. Painting, like cooking, was a way of living.”

Francesca Pollock

“They used a lot of ingredients that were purely available to them often without cost at all because they would find the ingredients themselves,” says Lea. “He loved clamming in the local bay, and the whole area around Springs, and they would do clams with garlic and dry vermouth, or classic clam pies with potato, which is very typical on that south fork of Long Island.”

“Apart from providing emotional grounding, food connected Pollock to his family. He was known for his rye-based white bread, which he likely learned from his mother, who had at least ten bread recipes. And vegetables made Pollock think of how much pride his father took in his produce, including a watermelon that garnered prizes at a local fair. Pollock saw the vegetables he grew as naturally occurring works of art”, writes Food Republic.

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