Dramatic New Photographs Recreate Scenes of Artists at Work

Adrien Broom’s series brings vitality to how we think about the likes of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner or Mark Twain

"The paint went all over, and of course some of it went off the canvas," the photographer says of Pollock's technique, re-enacted here in his studio. Adrien Broom
Alice & Glass Plate Negative of 'The Damned Club' Adrien Broom
The Parlor, Florence Griswold House Adrien Broom

When Adrien Broom first visited the former Long Island home of Jackson Pollock and his wife, the painter Lee Krasner, she was transfixed by the splattered floorboards in Pollock’s studio, a relic of the modernist’s signature technique. “You see the borders of some of the most famous works to come out of America,” Broom says, “and they all merge together to create something so special that is only in this one place.” Conjuring such moments for her photography series Holding Space, Broom recruits actors to imagine life in richly suggestive historic dwellings, such as those of Mark Twain, the arts patron Florence Griswold and the photographer Alice Austen. Seeing their quotidian belongings humanizes their one-time occupants. “These people have become legendary—godlike,” she says. “But here is a bedroom with a tiny little bed, and this is their bathroom! It’s inspirational because they created wonderful work, but they were still just people.”

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This article is a selection from the September 2019 issue of Smithsonian magazine