I’m sure he’s helpful in his way. How did you start collecting?
FRIEDMAN It started with Jackson Pollock. He wasn’t the first artist I acquired — Roy Lichtenstein was — but Pollock is really the basis of the whole collection. When Cindy and I first met and had our first date …
CINDY LOU WAKEFIELD It wasn’t really a date. We met at a diner over a cup of coffee and Jackson Pollock.
FRIEDMAN Cindy had been doing some freelance writing work for the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton. When we met, she mentioned the book “Hamptons Bohemia,” which Helen Harrison from the Pollock-Krasner House had written. [The book’s co-author is Constance Ayers, and the foreword was written by Edward Albee.]
WAKEFIELD Rick had read it, which was great. We’d go to the Pollock-Krasner House and sit on the rock and talk about it. We’d have a cup of coffee near where Jackson is buried.
So you were inspired by the book and the stories?
FRIEDMAN Yes, especially by Jackson Pollock. The genesis of the collection was Jackson Pollock and his circle: Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, James Brooks, James Osorio, Franz Kline, Esteban Vicente and, of course, Lee Krasner. I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire pieces by all of them.
Which was your first Pollock?
FRIEDMAN It was a 1940 painting auctioned at Christie’s. It’s colorful, with yellow, green and red anthropomorphic figures. It pops. Since then I’ve acquired five more Pollocks on paper.
What connection do you feel with Pollock?
FRIEDMAN In the late 1930s through early ’40s, Pollock underwent Jungian psychotherapy with Dr. Joseph Henderson, who evaluated his drawings during sessions. I have a few of those psychoanalytic drawings. I got them from auction at the Leslie Hindman auction house in Chicago. They’re filled with wild, odd-looking creatures you’d expect to find in the bottom of the ocean. This was the beginning of the Art Therapy movement. Sometimes when I get angry at something, I understand how he felt. You can see it looking at those creatures.
WAKEFIELD Living here in the footsteps of so many great artists gives us a vocabulary we share. We’ll see a seascape and say: That’s a Jane Wilson sky. We both know exactly what that means.
How has living on the East End full-time shaped your gaze?
FRIEDMAN I walk around at night, and I feel as if I’m surrounded by greatness. It’s a spiritual exercise to witness all the landscapes and so on which have inspired so many great artists. I find it uplifting: Pollock, de Kooning, Frankenthaler, Freilicher, Kline, Gorky. The list goes on and on. They were all friends. I feel like I’m on the beach with them, circa 1952.