Ruth Kligman

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Ruth Kligman
Photo of Ruth Kligman.jpg
Ruth Kligman by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1972
Born (1930-01-25)January 25, 1930
Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died March 1, 2010(2010-03-01) (aged 80)
New York, New York
Nationality American
Education Art Students League, New School for Social Research, New York University
Known for Painter
Movement Abstract

Ruth Kligman (January 25, 1930 – March 1, 2010) was an American abstract artist.[1] She was also the mistress of prominent American artists of the mid-20th century Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

She was born to a Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey,[1] with ancestors who had come from eastern Europe. Deciding at a young age that she wanted to be an artist, she studied at the Art Students League after moving into New York, as well as the New School for Social Research and New York University.[1]



She was an abstract painter, working in New York City, New York. Her works include Joan of Arc and the Light and Deman series. She has developed in several directions at different stages in her career, including iconography, gilding, curved canvases, bright primary shapes, and sunset-inspired gradations.


In 1974, Kligman published a memoir, Love Affair: A Memoir of Jackson Pollack [sic], about her relationship with Pollock.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Kligman was involved with Pollock in 1956 for a few months before his death.[4] She was 26 and he was 44 when they met at a gallery where she was working. He was struggling with alcoholism. On August 11, 1956, Pollock had been drinking all day before speeding and losing control of the car in which they were traveling. He and Edith Metzger died in the crash on August 1956. Kligman was thrown free but suffered serious injuries.[1]

Later she was involved for several years with the artist Willem de Kooning. De Kooning named a painting, Ruth's Zowie, for Kligman's exclamation at seeing it.[1]

Artists and photographers featured her in their work, including Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe. She said that she and Andy Warhol had a crush on each other for years.[1] Friendly with Jasper Johns, she continued with her own painting and long shared a studio with Franz Kline on 14th Street in New York.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

In the biographical film Pollock (2000), Ed Harris starred as Pollock, and Jennifer Connelly portrayed Kligman.



  1. ^ a b c d e f g (registration required) Kennedy, Randy (March 6, 2010). "Ruth Kligman, Muse and Artist, Dies at 80". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Blume, Lesley. "The Canvas and the Triangle". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 
  3. ^ Database (undated). Love Affair: A Memoir of Jackson Pollack, WorldCat. Accessed December 29, 2010.
  4. ^ "Pollock, De Kooning, Johns, Warhol, Kline – their Muse and Lover". The Art Story:Modern Art Insight. The Art Story Foundation. Retrieved 19 September 2017. 

External links[edit]