Blue Poles

I had the utmost pleasure in showing Ben Heller, the first owner of Blue Poles and a friend and early supporter of Jackson Pollock, where what had been his painting was hanging in our exhibition Abstract Expressionism.   He told Front Row how he had been offered the painting over lunch for $32,000, which was much more than he had ever previously spent on a painting, including his other Pollocks, and how he had made a quick calculation that he could pay for it in four instalments over two years.   It hung with two other Pollocks in his family’s living room in 151, Central Park West until he sold it in 1971 to the Australian government for $1.3 million, a purchase which helped to bring down Gough Whitlam’s government.   Ben hadn’t seen the painting since it has been cleaned, making the whites whiter, the yellows more yellow, and the blues blacker.   His reaction to the exhibition after seeing it for the first time was ‘Holy moly’:-


4 thoughts on “Blue Poles

  1. The first Christmas that Blue Poles was in the hands of the then Labour Govenrment of Australia, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had the image on his official Prime Ministerial Christmas Card…..hilariously the image was produced upside down!!!

  2. It is a wonderful painting. It won this year’s ARTICULATION prize – the prize that Madeleine Bessborough and the New Art Centre / Roche Court give every year, with a brilliant appreciation of it by a 17 year old. Encouraging that the young still care about good painting !

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