Lee Krasner (1908-1984)

lee krasner 1949Lee Krasner with Stop and Go, c. 1949. Photographer unknown.
The Pollock- Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Krasner first studied at Washington Irving High School (the only public institution to offer art training to women at the time in NYC), she then trained at the Women’s Art School of Cooper Union and, in her early 20s, at the National Academy of Design. Like many of the Abstract Expressionists, Krasner studied under Hans Hofmann in the Federal Art Project. It was here that she was exposed to the works of the Cubists. Her work uses geometric elements combined with more muted colours than some of her contemporaries, gestural brushstrokes and floral motifs.

Krasner met Pollock in 1942, and in 1945 they were married. Like other female artists at this time, Krasner was excluded from the canon in favour of her male contemporaries, and her connection to Pollock only added to this:

‘For Krasner, the oeuvre of her husband… long stood in the way of a serious evaluation of her own work’*

This can be witnessed, for example, as she sits at sidelines in the famous film of Pollock (1951), with a “token (in)visibility”**, an anti-thesis of the image of the artist (Pollock) as “modern, as American, as masculine”** But Krasner produced and carried onto to produce great works of art, long after her husband’s death.

Like many artists producing work at that time who are women, Krasner’s work only really began to see recognition even remotely on the scale of Pollock and Rothko after her death, in exhibitions such as the major American retrospective (curated by Robert Hobbs) in 1999-2000.

Sources- Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Centuries ed. Uta Grosenick (Taschen, 2003, p.108), Griselda Pollock Cockfights and other Parades, Oxford Art Journal 2003 26:2 14, http://www.galeriedada.com/bio/Krasner_Lee.html, http://www.easthamptonstar.com/dnn/Portals/0/20080731/Lee-Krasner-in-1949.jpg

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