Green River Cemetery – East Hampton, New York - Atlas Obscura
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East Hampton, New York

Green River Cemetery

This backwater graveyard in the Hamptons became a trendy burial spot and posthumous status symbol for famous artists. 

Though it was officially designated a cemetery in 1902, Green River had been used as a burial ground by the local working class fishing families of Springs since before the Civil War. But this changed in 1956, when Jackson Pollock was buried there. 

Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner, had lived in an old farmhouse in Springs since 1945. After Pollock’s death in a car accident, Krasner had him interred in the historic Green River Cemetery with a large boulder from behind his studio as his headstone. When Krasner herself died in 1984, Pollock’s headstone was replaced with a 50-ton boulder and the smaller one was relocated to Krasner’s grave, just a few feet from her husband’s.

Following Pollock’s death, Green River Cemetery became a fashionable burial ground for artists and literary figures, some of whom had no connection to Springs in life. Frank O’Hara, Ad Reinhart, Stan Vanderbeek, Hannah Wilke, Peter Boyle, and Stuart Davis were just some of the notables to be buried in the cemetery.

Their headstones are easily spotted, as many are engraved with the artists’ signatures. Elaine de Kooning was buried there in 1989, but her husband, abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning, balked at the idea of spending the afterlife with all the other artists of his generation.

De Kooning wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Some Springs locals have protested the invasion of their cemetery by Upper East Siders, especially after the widow of a Time Warner executive purchased 110 plots for her late husband, herself, and their progeny. This left the cemetery booked up and closed to locals, at least until it expands. Many feel what used to be a peaceful local cemetery has transformed into a tourist attraction, but the dead don’t seem to mind.

Know Before You Go

A short walk from the Pollock-Krasner House.