Day 12: Lee Krasner

Let me first begin by saying that I am a little pissed off. Google’s timeline of Krasner’s life is mostly Pollock’s life that her name is just attached to for being present. Only 3 or 4 events are actually about her. This is just irritating to me beyond words. She doesn’t even have an official website.

"Painting... in which the inner and the outer man are inseparable, transcends technique, transcends subject and moves into the realm of the inevitable."

Krasner was born in Brooklyn, NY in October 17th 1908. Her parents were Russian Jewish immigrants. She began her art education at Washington Irving High School (she applied once and was told there was no room, spent 6 months flunking out of another high school before she reapplied and got accepted).

“Curiously enough, on graduating from Washington Irving High School, I then made a decision to go to a woman’s art school, Cooper Union, but before graduation, my art teacher (by the time one gets to the graduation class you’re majoring in art a great deal, you’re drawing from a live model and so forth) called me over and said very quietly and very definitely, “The only reason I am passing you in art (65 was passing mark at that time) is because you’ve done so excellently in all your other subjects, I don’t want to hold you back and so I am giving you a 65 and allowing you to graduate.” In other words, I didn’t make the grade in art at all.”

She showed her portfolio to Cooper Union Women’s Fine Art school, was accepted and worked there for 2 to 3 years though she still struggled,

“Oh, what I consider quite amusing – Mr. Hitten’s class, when I came into Cooper Union, was divided into alcoves. The first alcove, you did hands and feet of cast, the second the torso, and third, the full figure, and then you were promoted to life. Well, I got stuck in the middle alcove somewhere in the torso and Mr. Hitten at one point, in utter despair and desperation, said more or less, what the high school teacher had said, “I’m going to promote you to life, not because you deserve it, but because I can’t do anything with you.” And so I got into life and Mr. Perard was quite nice, only at that point I decided I ought to do something more serious than Cooper Union and so it was the National Academy, where once more you had to enter with work. I was admitted, only I was demoted from life back to the cast drawing and on my first day of instruction, Mr. Hitten walked in. We looked at each other and realized it was futile because in the Academy he couldn’t promote me, it took a full committee to do that. So we were stuck with each other again. And so it went.”

before attending the National Academy of Design.

She received a pedagogy but after teaching for a year tore up her certification deciding she didn’t want to teach.

In 1937 She took classes taught by artist Hans Hofman “Cubism, I say I really didn’t get the first impact, the full impact of it until I worked with Hofmann.”

Hofman once stated about her work: “This is so good you would not know it was painted by a woman.”

Still life (1938)

In 1940 she became a member of the American Abstract Arists.

Seated Nude (1940)

In 1941 she was asked to participate in an exhibition titled “French and American Painters” with artists De Kooning and Pollock. “a bomb exploded when I saw that first French show. The next bomb that exploded was this incident when I walked into his studio. There were five or six canvases around and they had the same impact on me, something blew.” She said about Pollock’s work.

Image Surfacing (1945)

They were married in 1945. She adored him and his work but as a seasoned artist and older woman (3 years) she never became a follower and she never stopped working. Pollock’s automatism and energy had a great impact on her work, though she never abandoned her formal training.

Noon (1947)

Volcanic (1951)

Untitled (1954)

Her critical eye and shrewd judgement proved invaluable to his. As well as her tireless promoting of his work that lasted well after his death in 1956.

However, this critical nature of hers took quite a toll on her body of work. Krasner self-edited constantly, never satisfied. She would cut her drawings and paintings to create collages

Milkweed (1955)

and though this produced some of her most famous pieces it sometimes destroyed whole series of works. She has 599 pieces that survived her.

Prophecy (1956)

After Pollock’s death she continued working,

Assault on the Solar Plexus (1961)

Imperative (1976)

Crisis Moment (1980)

though she suffered from arthritis, until she passed away in 1984 at 75.

Dedication with little recognition,

The Pythia


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