Thursday, March 27, 2014

Krasner, Lee

oil on canvas
45.7 x 96.5 cm
The Jewish Museum, New York, USA
-Fair use-

"It's been said that without Lee Krasner, who for a time kept her volatile husband sober and productive, there wouldn't have been a Jackson Pollock. But without Jackson Pollock, there might have been a more self-confident, centered Lee Krasner." (Lee Rosenbaum of the Wall Street Journal)

Lee Krasner (1908-1984) was born, in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian Jewish immigrant parents from Bessarabia. She was an influential American abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. She married artist Jackson Pollock.

Her early art training was at The Cooper Union, Art Students League, and the National Academy of Design in New York. After graduating from the academy, Krasner took college courses toward a teaching certificate and worked as a model and waitress. In spite of the onset of the Great Depression, she did not give up hope of becoming a full-time professional artist.

Krasner had met Jackson Pollock, with whom she had taken part in an exhibition in 1941 organized by John Graham to demonstrate that American art was now equal in stature to European art. She responded immediately to Pollock’s work, believing that he was ‘a living force’ with whom others would have to contend and introducing him to numerous artists and critics who could help him further his goals. Their involvement during the early 1940s in the Surrealist circle of Peggy Guggenheim was fruitful for both of them.

On October 25, 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock. She was rigorously self-critical, and her critical eye is believed to have been important to Pollock's work. Their marriage and the move to the rural village of The Springs, near East Hampton, Long Island, turned out to be artistically rewarding. Krasner and Pollock gave each other reassurance and support. The daily give-and-take of Pollock and Krasner stimulated both artists. They fought a battle for legitimacy, impulsiveness and individual expression. They opposed an old-fashioned, conformist, and repressed culture unreceptive to these values, which was put off by the intricacy of Modernism in general.

The influence of Pollock was important in the development of Krasner’s mature style, in which her ability to give key modernist concepts a personal inflection finally emerges as the leitmotif of her work. Lee Krasner died in 1984, age 75, from natural causes. She had been suffering from arthritis. Her will established the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, set up in 1985 to aid artists in need.