[November 16 2017]
Lee Krasner was a peculiar painter with a diverse palette for color, shape and form. Her work was boundary blurring. She did not give a toss about isms, movements or devoting herself to one steadfast artistic agenda. Krasner was notoriously capricious which explains why she would neglect one creative style for another, and continuously swerve into different aesthetic directions. It is rumored that she was often so critical about her work that she would burn entire series of paintings without batting an eyelid.
This November Paul Kasmin Gallery has joined forces with the Pollock–Krasner Foundation to represent five pieces of ‘The Umber Paintings, 1959-1962’ a series that originally consists of twenty four items. The exhibition has been long overdue. It emphasizes the importance of Krasner’s legacy that, in effect has been compromised by her husband, Jackson Pollock’s ‘stardom’.
Krasner painted The Umber Paintings after Pollock’s death. It is obvious then, as Eric Gleason, the director of the gallery explained that the array of works represents an “emotional and creative evolution” in Krasner’s personal journey, and signals the onset of a new visual rhythm. The works are wrought with pain and grief, but also shine a light on Krasner’s vigorous self-renewal through art.
Pollock’s passing prompted Krasner to reassess her own work. It may seem controversial, but she could not come into her own next to her husband. Ironically the absent presence of Pollock gave her the impetus to explore the deeper tenets of abstract impressionism, and develop the tic and theme of her brushstrokes.
“I do not get why she isn’t more famous,” wondered writer Fran Leibowitz gazing at one of the paintings. “Had the times been different, she would have been much bigger,” sighed Leibowitz. “But you know, those were different days for women.”
In the end you have the impression that Krasner and Pollock not only made each other better, but also made each other possible as artists.
On view until January 13th, 2018 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, 293 10th Avenue, New York.
Text Kinga Rajzak and photo Alexis Dahan