Art: Mrs. Jackson Pollock

One day in 1938, when abstract expressionism was a skinny creature starving in cold-water flats, a New York gallery invited three promising American artists to fill out a show of Picasso, Matisse and Braque. Elated at the opportunity, the woman member of the trio set out curiously to track down the other two. The first was Willem de Kooning, the second an artist with an unfamiliar name who lived just a block away from her Greenwich Village studio. "I lunged right over," she remembers, "and when I saw his paintings I almost died. They bowled me over. Then I met him,...

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