Lee Krasner was a renowned Abstract Expressionist painter and an inspiration for many 20th century female artists. Krasner was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1908 and studied at the Arts Students League, The Cooper Union, and the National Academy of Design. Her career as a full-time artist took off during the Great Depression, when she worked as a painter for the WPA’s Federal Art Project in the 1930s. In 1937, Krasner began studying with renowned Modernist painter and teacher Hans Hoffman, and dramatically modified her style, moving away from naturalistic works towards an abstracted geometric aesthetic. In 1941, she first viewed Jackson Pollock’s work at an exhibition; having never heard of the artist before, she visited his studio and immediately recognized his talent. The two became romantically involved, married, and moved their studios to East Hampton, New York. Krasner continued working on her all-over compositions, inspired by Henri Matisse and Piet Mondrian’s grid paintings, and inventive collaged works, but she waited more than 10 years to receive significant critical recognition for her work amidst a male-dominated American art scene. During the late 1940s and 1950s, Pollock’s career took off significantly with Krasner’s constant support; his death in a car crash in 1955 following their rocky marriage served as a catalyst for Krasner’s work. Krasner died in 1984, at 76 years old, finally fully recognized as a distinguished Abstract artist in her own right. She is one of the few female artists to have had a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art.
Working in oil on canvas, ink on paper, and mixed-media collage, Krasner produced works characterized by a sensuous painterly style and her large-scales collages often formed from the artist’s own cut-up paintings and drawings. Her signature vibrant use of color, lifelong interest in the fecundity of nature, and joyous sensibility were among her key contributions to the often brooding, deeply serious post-war abstract tendencies of her peers. Krasner was remarkable for her artistic versatility and advanced skill, which, coupled with her intensive training in art theory, enabled her to revise her style and technique multiple times over the course of her career.
Her work has been exhibited in retrospectives at the Houston Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many other institutions.