Monday, 19 October 2009

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

You buy a new house which has a granny flat in the back garden. "A nice little earner!" you think, and you advertise for a tenant.

You rent to Paul, a nice young man from Wyoming. He is an artist and you like the idea of having a bit of culture in the back yard. You have a few misgivings about all the empty grog bottles in the garbage, but if Paul is a drunk, he is a quiet one, and he pays his rent on time, so you shrug your shoulders and forget about it.

One day you wander down to the granny flat to take Paul his mail and you discover that he has made an absolute wreck of the place. Paint everywhere - great splashes and gobs of it, on the carpets, the walls, the furniture. You fly off the handle at him, but he calmly informs you that he is an action painter and uses the dripping, splashing and pouring techniques. You realise the object in his hand is your turkey baster that recently disappeared from the kitchen - he is squirting bright blue paint in pole-like stripes from it on a canvas laid out on the floor, even as you yell at him.

This is the final straw and you give him 24 hours to get out. After he has left, the flat has to be completely painted and refurnished. You have to get a new turkey baster too. Paul left a huge canvas behind - you give it to the guy who is taking the paint-spattered furniture to the tip, as he seems to have taken a liking to it. It is just a lot of squiggly splashes and it doesn't even have a proper title - it is called "No 5, 1948". What sort of title is that ?

Some years later, you recognise the picture on the tv news - Sotheby's had sold it for $140 million - a record price for a painting. You kick the cat, demolish the turkey baster and get drunk.

Paul Jackson Pollock: the tenant from hell!

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