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Lee Krasner (October 27, 1908 — June 19, 1984) was an influential abstract expressionist painter in the second half of the 20th century. On October 25 1945, she married artist Jackson Pollock, who was also influential in the Abstract Expressionism movement.

Early life and education

Krasner was born as Lena Krassner in Brooklyn, New Yorkmarker to Russian Jewish immigrant parents from Bessarabiamarker.

She studied at The Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, and worked on the WPA Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943. Starting in 1937, she took classes with Hans Hofmann, who taught the principles of cubism, and his influence helped to direct Krasner's work toward neo-cubist abstraction. When commenting on her work, Hofmann stated, "This is so good you would not know it was painted by a woman."

In 1940, she started showing her works with the American Abstract Artists, a group of American painters.


Krasner would often cut apart her own drawings and paintings to create collages and sometimes revised or discarded entire series. As a result, her surviving body of work is relatively small. Her catalogue raisonné, published in 1995 by Abrams, lists only 599 known pieces. She was rigorously self-critical, and her critical eye is believed to have been important to Pollock's work.

Krasner struggled with the public's reception of her identity, both as a woman and as the wife of Pollock. Therefore she often signed her works with the genderless initials "L.K." instead of her more recognizable full name.

Krasner and Pollock gave each other reassurance and support during a period when neither's work was well-understood. Like Picasso during the brief period of his interaction with Braque, the daily give-and-take of Pollock and Krasner stimulated both artists. Pollock and Krasner 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.

Lee Krasner died in 1984, aged 75, from natural causes. She had been suffering from arthritis.


Six months after her death, the Museum of Modern Artmarker (MoMAmarker) in New York Citymarker held a retrospective exhibition of her work. A review of the exhibition in the New York Times noted that it "clearly defines Krasner's place in the New York School" and that she "is a major, independent artist of the pioneer Abstract Expressionist generation, whose stirring work ranks high among that produced here in the last half-century." As of 2008, Krasner is one of only four women artists to have had a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art. The other three women artists are Louise Bourgeois (MoMA retrospective in 1982), Helen Frankenthaler (MoMA retrospective in 1989) and Elizabeth Murray (MoMA retrospective in 2004)..

Her papers were donated to the Archives of American Artmarker in 1985; they were digitized and posted on the web for researchers in 2009.

After her death, her East Hampton property became the Pollock-Krasner House and Studiomarker, and is open to the public for tours. A separate organization, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, was established in 1985. The Foundation functions as the official Estate for both Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock, and also, under the terms of her will, serves "to assist individual working artists of merit with financial need." The U.S. copyright representative for the Pollock-Krasner Foundation is the Artists Rights Society.

Krasner was portrayed in an Academy Award-winning performance by Marcia Gay Harden in the 2000 film Pollock, a drama about the life of her husband Jackson Pollock, directed by Ed Harris. In John Updike's novel Seek My Face (2002), a significant portion of the main character's life is based on Krasner's.



  • Naifeh, Steven and Smith, Gregory White, Jackson Pollock:an American saga, Published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc.1989, ISBN 0-517-56084-4
  • Krasner, Lee; Bryan Robertson; Robert Miller Gallery New York, Lee Krasner Collages (New York : Robert Miller Gallery, 1986)
  • Krasner, Lee, Richard Howard, and John Cheim. Umber Paintings, 1959-1962. New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 1993. ISBN 0944680437
  • Krasner, Lee, and Bryan Robertson. Lee Krasner, Collages. New York: Robert Miller Gallery, 1986.
  • Krasner, Lee, and Marcia Tucker. Lee Krasner: Large Paintings. 1973.
  • Rose, Barbara; Lee Krasner; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.; Museum of Modern Art New York, Lee Krasner: A Retrospective (Houston : Museum of Fine Arts ; New York : Museum of Modern Art, ©1983.) ISBN 087070415X

Further reading

  • Robert Hobbs. Lee Krasner. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1999.

  • Robert Hobbs. Lee Krasner. New York: Abbeville Press, 1993.

External links

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