Pollock: Blake’s 1949 Museum Design


The reconstructed "ideal museum" model, designed by Peter Blake and constructed by Patrick Bodden, displayed in the landscape behind the Pollock-Krasner House, where Blake envisioned the building. On the left is a reproduction of Pollock's small vertical canvas, Number 24, 1949 (private collection), turned horizontally. At the center is The Key, 1946 (Art Institute of Chicago), with two replicas of Pollock's plaster-dipped wire sculptures on the right.

With the frosted glass roof removed, the layout of paintings, mirrored and clear glass walls, and sculptures is evident. As Blake's concept evolved, he came to see the building as an experiential environment rather than a conventional display space for the artist's canvases. Had it been built, Pollock would have painted directly on the transparent walls, allowing his imagery to interact visually with the natural surroundings.

With the frosted glass roof removed, the layout of paintings, mirrored and clear glass walls, and sculptures is evident. As Blake’s concept evolved, he came to see the building as an experiential environment rather than a conventional display space for the artist’s canvases. Had it been built, Pollock would have painted directly on the transparent walls, allowing his imagery to interact visually with the natural surroundings.

A reproduction of Pollock's 1946 painting, The Key (Art Institute of Chicago) is reflected in a mirrored wall. On the right, a corner of Number 10, 1949 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) is visible. On the left is Number 17A, 1948 (private collection). The 1994-95 model also features reproductions of the three wire and plaster sculptures that Pollock made especially for Blake's original 1949 model.

A reproduction of Pollock’s 1946 painting, The Key (Art Institute of Chicago) is reflected in a mirrored wall. On the right, a corner of Number 10, 1949 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) is visible. On the left is Number 17A, 1948 (private collection). The 1994-95 model also features reproductions of the three wire and plaster sculptures that Pollock made especially for Blake’s original 1949 model.

The edge of Number 24, 1949 (private collection) is just visible on the left. Number 17A, 1948, is at the center, with The Key on the right.

The edge of Number 24, 1949 (private collection) is just visible on the left. Number 17A, 1948, is at the center, with The Key on the right.

On the left is The Key. A detail of Number 10, 1949 on the right; about half of the painting is reproduced in the model.

On the left is The Key. A detail of Number 10, 1949 on the right; about half of the painting is reproduced in the model.

At the center of Peter Blake's "ideal museum" model, a reproduction of Jackson Pollock's 1946 painting, The Key (Art Institute of Chicago) is reflected in mirrored walls.

At the center of Peter Blake’s “ideal museum” model, a reproduction of Jackson Pollock’s 1946 painting, The Key (Art Institute of Chicago) is reflected in mirrored walls.

A portion of The Key is visible on the left. In the center is Number 10, 1949, behind one of the plaster-coated wire sculptures. Another sculpture partly obscures Summertime: Number 9A, 1948 (Tate Gallery, London).

A portion of The Key is visible on the left. In the center is Number 10, 1949, behind one of the plaster-coated wire sculptures. Another sculpture partly obscures Summertime: Number 9A, 1948 (Tate Gallery, London).

Captions by Helen Harrison. Photos by Jeff Heatley.


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