Lee Krasner was a prominent artist who had an immense contribution during the rise of the ‘Abstract Expressionism Movement’. This was the post-World War art movement in the history of American Art. There was a period where she had been overshadowed by his husband Jackson Pollock who was a well-known face in the field of art in America. He had also earned recognition as the pioneer of abstract expressionism.
Overtime, Krasner became a significant part of this movement by synthesizing the abstract form and psychological content. She was highly influenced by George Bridgman, a Canadian-American painter and Hans Hofmann, a German-born American painter; in depicting human anatomy.
There have been various abstract and expressive works of Lee Krasner in the form of painting, charcoal drawing, collage painting and mosaics. In her early career, she was greatly impressed and had an intense knowledge of cubism which she learnt from Hofmann. In the early 1940s, she was deeply affected by seeing Pollock’s abstract work and gradually evolved as an abstract painter.
The philosophical thinking behind work was closely related to her personal experiences. In this article, we will get to know about her life as an artist, her philosophy and idea behind her work and credits in the field of art after her death.
Burgeoning as an Artist
Lee Krasner was an ambitious budding artist born in Brooklyn, New York whose family was Russian-Jewish immigrants. She was extremely enthusiastic about pursuing art as her career at a very tender age. So during her teens, she got admission at Washington Irving High School for girls as it provided an art major.
After completing her graduation, she got a scholarship at Woman’s Art School of Cooper Union and attended it to gain a teaching certificate in art. She went for further studies at the National Academy of Design in 1928 to deepen her knowledge in the field of art.
She got tremendous exposure to the techniques of the historic arts and paintings by attending a technical art school. She developed high skills in self-portraying. She was greatly influenced by post-impressionism during the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art. This led to her curiosity in modern art and its composition, theory and technique.
She learnt the approach of nude and still life. Krasner started working on cubism and neo-cubism under the guidance of German-born American painter, Hans Hofmann in 1937. She made charcoal drawings with human models and still life with oil on paper colour.
The early 1940s- 1949
The philosophical ideas of Lee Krasner were being impacted by her personal life experience. This could be noticed in the early 1940s when she was introduced to the work of Jackson Pollock. She started questioning her cubic art technique and wanted to create innovative ideas in abstract paintings. In this process of evolution, she had destroyed a few of her cubic artworks.
She created a series of ‘Little Images’ between 1946 and 1949. These were categorised as a mosaic painting where numerous tiny images created a pattern. The suffering of the holocaust was the idea behind this art series. She again criticized her work after completing this series.
‘Collage paintings’ were her next art series between 1951 and 1955. She experimented with colour contrasts, different organic and geometric shapes, line weights and materials like wood, Masonite or canvas. ‘Green- Earth Series’ was created between 1956 and 1959. Here, Lee Krasner demonstrated her feelings and emotions before and after the death of Pollock.
During the ‘Umber Series’, she was suffering from insomnia as she was deeply affected by the death of her husband. The painting depicts sorrow and suffering with the use of dull and monochrome colours as she was working at night with the artificial lights. In the 1960s, she had rejuvenated as a person and had started using bright colour for ‘Primary Series’.
Impact of Krasner’s Work
It is said that “Behind every successful man there is a woman”. Lee Krasner is the perfect example of this saying. She and her husband who was the most prominent abstract artist had always influenced each other with their respective works. Krasner had stood by his side and had constantly supported him and helped him with his work in the 1940s. She had to divert her focus from her work to Pollock’s work, to improvise his work which later became the masterpiece.
After emotional healing from the trauma of losing her husband, she was greatly influenced by postmodern art in the late 1970s. She emphasised communicating through art by using bright colours on the large horizontal paintings.
There was a retrospective exhibition of Krasner’s work at the Museum of Modern Art which was held six months after her death in 1984. There was a review of her artwork by the ‘New York Times’ where it defines her as a major independent artist who pioneered ‘Abstract Expressionist’ generation.
She earned huge recognition in the abstract paintings where a large number of her works were sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2003. Pollock-Krasner House where she along her husband used to live in Springs, New York became a public place where their fantabulous artworks were on display.
Lee Krasner is an eminent role model for the feminists as she is among the four female artists whose solo works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. There was increase in popularity of the “Feminist Art Movement’ in the 1960s and 1970s still; her works were being overshadowed or compared with the work of Pollock. She rose to be a prominent artist and was declared as the pioneer of the ‘Abstract Expressionist’ generation.