Lee Krasner

Biography of Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner was one of the pioneers of American Abstract Expressionism. Her vital role in 20th century American postwar art was until recently overshadowed by her role as the wife of the Jackson Pollock. She pursued her artistic career in the male dominated art world for almost half a century before beginning to gain the recognition she had always deserved in the 1970s. Today, she is rightly acknowledged as one of the proponents of Abstract Expressionist theory and a key figure in the history of American art.


Constantly searching for new means of expression, Lee Krasner experimented with a vast array of mediums and techniques, but always returned faithfully to painting, drawing and print-making throughout her lifetime. In phases of change and experimentation, she would often destroy old work—all of her Cubist-inspired works, Little Image series, and automatic painting experiments were eradicated. As a result, the small fraction of artworks that she left behind are all the more precious.


Inspired by Mondrian, Lee Krasner developed a technique for creating “all-over” artworks, where abstract forms and lines did not simply cover the surface of the paper or canvas, but became the entire artwork. While both her and her husband Jackson Pollock created abstract expressionist work, they had received extremely different artistic educations, and were therefore hugely influential on each other throughout their artistic careers. Krasner worked by abstracting the real world around her, inspired by her vast knowledge of art history. Pollock worked the other way round, with process and physical experience being the starting point of his work, which he then opened up to the world around him. Krasner’s knowledge and interest in the wider discourses of their generation helped Pollock focus his work. Pollock, in turn, was able to help Krasner channel emotions and instincts into her art. Krasner’s mature works are a captivating balance of visual harmony, emotional intelligence and bold experimentation.


Lee Krasner (b. 1908, d. 1984) is one of the few female artists to have had a retrospective exhibition at the MoMA, New York. She is in major public collections across the globe, including Tate, London, MoMA, NYC, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

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