Irving Penn and Robert Mapplethorpe made portraits of her; Willem de Kooning, with whom she was romantically involved, titled a 1957 painting “Ruth’s Zowie,” supposedly after she made that exclamation upon seeing it..."It" being the painting, right? Or are these buried sex jokes? "Ms. Kligman said that de Kooning had called her 'his sponge'" — supposedly because she absorbed so much learning about art from him. I'm thinking a man calling a woman "his sponge" — presumably the quote is "my sponge" — is thinking about spewing something other than information.
Andy Warhol mentions her in his diaries several times, and she wrote that they “had a terrific crush on each other” for many years; she was friendly with Jasper Johns, to whom she once proposed, and with Franz Kline, whose former studio on 14th Street became her home and the studio where she continued to paint almost to the end of her life.The full text of Andy Warhol's diaries ought to be on line. That's what the internet is for. But you can go to Amazon and do a "search inside the book" for Kligman. So let's check out the substance of that terrific crush. Page 7:
I read the Ruth Kligman book Love Affair about her "love affair" with Jackson Pollock — and that's in quotes. It's so bad — how could you ever make a movie of it without making it a whole new story? Ruth told me she wants me to produce it and Jack Nicholson to star.Ha. Terrific crush. Page 17:
In the book she says something like, "I had to get away from Jackson and I ran as far as possible." So do you know where she went? (laughs) Sag Harbor. He lived in Springs. So that's — what? Six miles? And she was making it like she went to the other side of the world. And then she said, "The phone rang — how oh how did he ever find me?" I'm sure she called hundreds of people to give them the number in case he asked them.
Read the Ruth Kligman book again, she was driving Jackson Pollock crazy in the car and that's when he ran into the pole.Page 19:
Ruth Kligman had called me that afternoon and I told her I was seeing Jack Nicholson and I would talk to him about starring in the Jackson Pollock movie. She asked me if I would take her to meet Jack and I said no. (laughs) I wouldn't take her anywhere after reading her book. She killed Pollock, she was driving him so nuts.Terrific crush. Terrific crash.
Ruth Kligman kissed me and I didn't know what she was doing, she started talking all about a love affair she and we had had together, apologizing for breaking it off, kissing me, and it was all a fantasy, so I thought if she could do that with me, then she probably never had a love affair with Pollock. She looked good. She was in a velvet Halston.Terrific crush. Can I bitch about the accuracy of the journalism in the New York Times when it's the lady's obituary? She died at — not 88, like the Oldsmobile — 80.
She never got her book made into a movie, but they did eventually make a movie "Pollock" — and Kligman sued the filmmakers for ripping off her memoir. The obit doesn't say if she won, lost, or settled. (And I'm not seeing a reported case.) Jack Nicholson never played the role. It was Ed Harris. Kligman — who looked, it was written, like one of those "earthy, voluptuous movie stars of the era, such as Elizabeth Taylor or Sophia Loren" — was played by Jennifer Connelly: