Urgent Museum Notice

Lee Krasner

Black-and-white photograph of an older light-skinned woman with short grey and white hair. She stands in a doorway, and rests her right hand against the door frame to her left and her left hand on her right forearm. She wears a dark blouse and shawl.

Photo by Ann Chwatsky, courtesy of the photographer © Ann Chwatsky

1908–1984

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Russian Orthodox Jewish family, Krasner pursued formal art training at several New York City institutions and also studied with the influential German abstract painter Hans Hofmann. Like many of her generation, Krasner supported herself in the 1930s by working for the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project.  Her positions with the Mural Division provided her with valuable experience working on a larger scale. She was also an active member the Artists Union and American Abstract Artists, and her commitment to such activism continued throughout her life.

Krasner married the gifted, but troubled painter Jackson Pollock in 1945. Long overshadowed by Pollock, Krasner was actually an established abstract artist well before she met him. Fully engaged in the New York art scene of the ’30s and ’40s, she introduced Pollock to the artist Willem de Kooning and critic Clement Greenberg, among other key figures.

During her time with Pollock at their home near Springs, Long Island, Krasner developed her Little Image paintings. Thickly painted with abstract symbols, these works are today considered among her most significant contributions to Abstract Expressionism.

When her 11 year marriage ended with Pollock’s death in an automobile crash, Krasner devoted the rest of her life to promoting Pollock’s art and ensuring his legacy, while also continuing her own exploration of abstraction. In 1978 Krasner was finally accorded her rightful place alongside Pollock, Rothko, and the others in the exhibition Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years. The last decade of her life also brought numerous honors, awards, and publications.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Lee Krasner
  • Birth

    New York City, 1908
  • Death

    New York City, 1984
  • Phonetic Spelling

    lee KRAZ-nerr

Works by Lee Krasner

The Springs

Many first generation New York abstract expressionist painters developed one signature style that they maintained throughout their careers. Lee Krasner took a more radical approach, changing her style several times. In The Springs, she combined the vocabulary of circles, ovals, and chevron shapes that she first developed in her “Little Image” paintings of the 1940s with the daubs and splashes of...

Densely layered, expressive brushwork in cream, white, and multiple shades of green cover a rectangular, horizontal canvas from edge to edge. Daubs and splashes of paint mingle with strokes resembling arcs, circles, ovals, and other curving forms to suggest movement and energy.