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Lee Krasner: Rewriting the History of Art and Artist Life

One could go on forever as to whether the paint should be thick or thin, whether to paint the woman or the square, hard-edge or soft, but after a while, such questions become a bore. They are merely problems in aesthetics, having only to do with the outer man. But the painting I have in mind is one in which inner and outer are inseparable, transcends technique, transcends subjects, and moves into the realm of the inevitable. –Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner was a prominent artist who made an immense contribution during the rise of the ‘Abstract Expressionism Movement’. Krasner became well-known in this movement by fusing psychological meaning with abstract form. Lee Krasner has created a variety of expressive and abstract paintings, mosaics, collage paintings, and charcoal drawings. She was deeply intrigued by and knowledgeable about cubism in her early career, having studied it with Hofmann. She was profoundly impacted by witnessing Pollock‘s abstract paintings in the early 1940s and progressively developed as an abstract painter. Her work’s conceptual underpinnings were strongly tied to her individual experiences.

On October 27, 1908, Lee Krasner was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrants Joseph and Anna Krasner. When she left a public primary school in 1922, she had already shown a strong interest in the arts. She spent three years specializing in painting at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, where she finished most of her secondary education. After attending the Women’s Art School at Cooper Union from 1926 to 1929, Krasner briefly participated in the Art Student’s League. Krasner was employed at the National Academy of Design from 1929 to 1932. There, she first learned about and experienced the influence of the School of Paris while visiting the recently inaugurated Museum of Modern Art.

Burning candles by Lee Krasner

While living with Pollock at their home in The Springs, Long Island, Krasner produced some of her most captivating series, including her Little Image paintings. Thick impasto and recurring abstract patterns define these paintings, considered some of her most important contributions to abstract expressionism. She is noted for her paintings “Happy Lady”, “Through Blue”, “Mister Blue”, “Siren”, “Portrait in Green”, “Polar Stampede”, and “The Assault on the Solar Plexus”.

After Pollock died in a 1956 vehicle accident while pursuing her artistic goals, Krasner committed the rest of her life to honoring her legacy. Krasner used this new seclusion time to produce her iconic Umber Paintings. She had never shown such rawness and passion in her work as in these pieces. Among Krasner’s most psychoanalytically evocative works is this series. It comprises geometric shapes with ferocious brushstrokes in a limited colour scheme primarily composed of white, cream, and number.

A self-portrait of Lee Krasner

Many painters have drawn inspiration from the life and work of Krasner, and other women artists particularly respect her. Throughout her career, Krasner confronted the myth that “women can’t paint” and fought against the Abstract Expressionist movement. Her generosity helped to create the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which was established after her death to support the development of fine artists. Krasner influenced other artists, particularly those of future generations, by her artistic and stylistic breakthroughs, her example of perseverance, and her eventual success. Her large-scale, vibrantly coloured paintings from the 1960s helped feminist artist Miriam Schapiro’s femmage works.

Lee Krasner had the potential to be a superstar of the Abstract Expressionist movement thanks to her compelling art and endearing demeanour. Nonetheless, her spouse, Jackson Pollock, received more attention for years than her artwork, and her life story was misrepresented.

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