Lee Krasner

Born 1908. Died 1984.
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Lee Krasner Biography

Artist Lee Krasner was born to Russian-Jewish parents in 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. Her pursuit of a career as an artist began early, and she applied to and was accepted to the Washington Irving High School, which was, at the time, the only public school in the city to allow women to study art. Following her graduation, she went on to train for varying periods of time at the Cooper Union, the Art Students League of New York, and the National Academy of Design. Krasner supported herself in her early career by working various odd jobs before she was commissioned as a full-time artist for the Federal Art Project.

As Krasner’s artistic practice matured, she became distinctly dissatisfied with the formalist artistic traditions she had been trained in. Consequently, she began integrating herself within nonconformist artistic circles, and undertook further study from famed painter Hans Hoffman. Ultimately, Krasner helped found the group American Abstract Artists, a collective that promoted and disseminated abstraction—it was through her involvement with the group that she met the painter Jackson Pollock, whom she would marry in 1945. The couple relocated from Manhattan to Long Island in the late 1940s, but she continued to develop her artistic practice, despite the rigors of managing her husband’s then explosive career. She began to experiment with collage, and in 1955 exhibited a series of works—consisting of torn paintings that had been reassembled—which the eminent art critic Clement Greenberg described as one of the most significant exhibitions of the decade. She died in 1984 at the age of 75, and six months after her death the Museum of Modern Art, New York, held a retrospective of her work.

Throughout her career, Krasner never stayed faithful to a singular artistic mode, and she experimented consistently with technique, medium, and scale. Her painterly, gestural approach to many of her canvases was singular, and significant to the evolution of Abstract Expressionism on a whole—and her persistence in the face of the extensive sexism present in the New York art world too has inspired subsequent generations of women artists. Today, her work is in many prominent collections, and the home she had with Pollock in East Hampton, New York, has been preserved and made open to the public. Further, in the year following her death, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation was established “for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to individual working visual artists of established ability through the generosity of the late Lee Krasner.”

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