Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner (October 27, 1908June 19, 1984) was an influential abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century.In 1945, Krasner married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the Abstract Expressionism movement.

Early life and education

She was born in Brooklyn, New York to Russian Jewish immigrant parents.

Krasner studied at The Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design and worked on the WPA Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943. Starting in 1937, she took classes with Hans Hofmann, who taught the principles of cubism, and his influence helped to direct Krasner's work toward neo-cubist abstraction. When commenting on her work, Hofmann stated, "This is so good you would not know it was painted by a woman." [ Nemser, Cindy. Art Talk: Conversations with Twelve Women Artists (New York, 1975), pp.80-112.]

In 1940, she started showing with the American Abstract Artists, a group of American painters.


She would often cut apart her own drawings and paintings to create collages and sometimes revised or discarded whole series. As a result, her surviving body of work is relatively small. Her catalogue raisonné, published in 1995 by Abrams, lists only 599 known pieces. She was rigorously self-critical, and her critical eye is believed to have been important to Pollock's work.

Krasner struggled with the public's reception to her identity as both a woman and the wife of Pollock. In dealing with audiences, Krasner often signed her works with the genderless initials "L.K." instead of her more recognizable full name. [ Wagner, Anne. "Lee Krasner as L.K." The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History (New York, 1992) p. 427.]

In addition to mutual admiration as artists, Krasner and Pollock gave each other assurance and support during a period when neither was understood. Like Picasso during the brief period of his interaction with Braque, the daily give and take of Pollock and Krasner fed both artists. Comrades in art, Pollock and Krasner fought the battle for legitimacy, impulsiveness and individual expression in a old-fashioned, conformist and repressed culture unreceptive to these values and put off by the intricacy and hassle of Modernism itself. [citation | title= Pollock and Krasner at Robert Miller | publisher=ARTINFO | year=2006 | date= June 28, 2006 | url=http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/9146/pollock-and-krasner-at-robert-miller/ | accessdate=2008-04-22 ]

She died at age 75 in 1984.


Six months after her death, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City held a retrospective of her work. In their review of the exhibition, the "New York Times" said that it "clearly defines Krasner's place in the New York School" and that she "is a major, independent artist of the pioneer Abstract Expressionist generation, whose stirring work ranks high among that produced here in the last half-century." [ [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06E0DB1038F932A15751C1A962948260&sec=&spon=&&scp=2&sq=%22Lee%20Krasner%22%20retrospective%201984&st=cse "New York Times" "ART: LEE KRASNER FINDS HER PLACE IN RETROSPECTIVE AT MODERN" By GRACE GLUECK. Published: December 21, 1984.] ] As of 2008, Krasner is only one of four women artists to enjoy a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. The other three women artists are Louise Bourgeois (MoMA retrospective in 1982), Helen Frankenthaler (MoMA retrospective in 1989) and Elizabeth Murray (MoMA retrospective in 2004). [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/02/arts/design/02kino.html?_r=1&scp=39&sq=%22lee%20krasner%22%201984&st=cse&oref=slogin "New York Times" "A Visit With the Modern's First Grandmother" By CAROL KINO. Published: October 2, 2005.] ] .

After her death, her East Hampton property became the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio, and is open to the public for tours. A separate organization, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, was established in 1985. The Foundation not only functions as the official Estate for both Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, but also, under the terms of her will, serves "to assist individual working artists of merit with financial need." [ [http://www.pkf.org/press.html The Pollock-Krasner Foundation website: Press Release page] ] The U.S. copyright representative for the Pollock-Krasner Foundation is the Artists Rights Society [ [http://arsny.com/requested.html Most frequently requested artists list of the Artists Rights Society] ] .

Krasner was portrayed in an Academy Award-winning performance by Marcia Gay Harden in the 2000 film "Pollock", a drama about the life of her husband Jackson Pollock, directed by Ed Harris. In John Updike's novel "Seek My Face" (2002), a significant portion of the main character's life is based on Krasner's.



* Krasner, Lee; Bryan Robertson; Robert Miller Gallery New York, [http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/14980001&referer=brief_results "Lee Krasner Collages"] (New York : Robert Miller Gallery, 1986)
* Krasner, Lee, Richard Howard, and John Cheim. "Umber Paintings, 1959-1962". New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 1993. ISBN 0944680437
* Krasner, Lee, and Bryan Robertson. "Lee Krasner, Collages". New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 1986.
* Krasner, Lee, and Marcia Tucker. "Lee Krasner: Large Paintings". 1973.
* Rose, Barbara; Lee Krasner; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.; Museum of Modern Art New York, [http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/10527746&referer=brief_results "Lee Krasner: A Retrospective] (Houston : Museum of Fine Arts ; New York : Museum of Modern Art, ©1983.) ISBN 087070415X

Further reading

* Marika Herskovic, [http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/50253062&tab=holdings "American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s An Illustrated Survey,"] (New York School Press, 2003.) ISBN 0-9677994-1-4
* Marika Herskovic, [http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/oclc/50666793&tab=holdings "New York School Abstract Expressionists Artists Choice by Artists,"] (New York School Press, 2000.) ISBN 0-9677994-0-6

External links

* [http://naples.cc.sunysb.edu/CAS/pkhouse.nsf Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center]
* [http://www.pkf.org The Pollock-Krasner Foundation]
* [http://www.artfacts.net/index.php/pageType/artistInfo/artist/14728 List of public exhibitions]
* [http://www.americanabstractartists.org/ American Abstract Artists]

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