Jackson Pollock with his dogs, ca. 1955 / unidentified photographer. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers, circa 1905-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Jackson Pollock (1912–1956), the leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement, had two dogs to keep him company in his studio—a Border Collie-mix named Gyp, and a standard Poodle called Ahab. Jackson and his wife Lee Krasner got Gyp in 1946, the year after they moved from New York City to East Hampton on Long Island. The name Gyp was a tribute to Jackson’s childhood dog, also named Gyp, short for gypsy or a wanderer. According to Helen A. Harrison, director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, Ahab was given to Pollock and Krasner by friend and fellow artist Alfonso Ossorio, probably in 1952. (Ossorio kept Ahab’s sister, Horla.) Jackson and Lee had a mutual interest in writer Herman Melville and named their Poodle after Captain Ahab of Melville’s Moby Dick, a fitting name for a dog living close to the sea. Gyp’s and Ahab’s scratch marks can still be seen on the door to Pollock’s studio.