Jackson Pollock is one of the most recognizable names in Modern art. However, the woman who enabled much of his success is not as widely known. His wife, Lee Krasner, had a passion for his work that surpassed all else. Calling Pollock a “living force,” Krasner focused on promoting his career. However, this does not mean that her own art was uninspired. She was an important figure in the Abstract Expressionist community.
Lee Krasner was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in 1908 Brooklyn. The sixth child and first born in America, she was not one to blend in with a crowd. Her fierce independence and intense nature made her both a visceral artist and a challenging student. As a student, she picked up on many of the styles and techniques that would influence the rest of her career – Fauvism and Cubism. Matisse was another important influence on her paintings, specifically her use of bright colors. Radical ideas suited her.
The growing Modern art scene called to Krasner and she was determined to be part of it. She befriended a number of artists and was invited to take part in the “French and American Painting” show. The focus of the exhibit was to display that American art could now stand apart from European art. Krasner came across a name that sounded unfamiliar, Jackson Pollock. It puzzled her. She later visited his studio unannounced and asked to see his work.
Pollock’s work seduced her. In turn, her keen eye and good judgment helped Pollock edit his work and find his place in the blossoming avant-garde community. Gradually, focus was torn from her own art. While promoting him, Lee Krasner produced what she called “gray slabs” devoid of style or personality. Devoting so much of her energy to his career lead to neglecting her own work. However, Pollock was her passion. He challenged her. She wished to be surrounded by his influence and reject any other. They soon married.
In 1956, Pollock died in a single car drunk driving accident in front of their barn. It was a heavy blow to Krasner and she turned to painting to deal with the pain. During this period she produced her most evocative works. Loss and anger were captured in bright, floral, and grand sweeping brush strokes. This became the base of two series – Earth Green and Night Journey.
Krasner had always maintained that her work was autobiographical. The paintings created after Pollock’s works are intense, mad scrambles of paint. Form is hidden under abstraction, giving the works an eerie quality.
In her later career, Krasner turned to collage. Finding herself unsatisfied with her older works, she cut up the canvases and reused them. Recycling her old works into different ones breathed new life into them. It also revitalized Krasner, who avoided stagnation and repetition.
Lee Krasner left an impact on the art world. Not only did she help bring Pollock to the forefront of American art, she crafted layered and innovated pieces of art.
Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by Lee Krasner contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.
Painting: Lee Krasner. Composition, 1949, Philadelphia Museum of Art