National Museum of Women in the Arts
Lee Krasner
October 27 1908 - June 19 1984
Photograph of Lee Krasner, unknown date, by Ann Chwatsky, courtesy of the photographer. (c) Ann Chwatsky
Place of Birth:
New York
Phonetic Spelling:
lee KRAZ-nerr
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Collagist, Painter
Abstraction, Abstract Expressionism
Artist's Biography:
One of the most radical painters in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, Lee Krasner devoted six decades of her life to making art. As a teenager, the Brooklyn native commuted into Manhattan to attend Washington Irving High School, an all-female institution where she majored in studio art. After graduating in 1926, Krasner continued her studies at the women’s art school of The Cooper Union, The Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, and City College of New York. Krasner also took classes with the avant-garde painter Hans Hofmann, who encouraged her to explore pure abstraction. A series of jobs in the Public Works of Art Project’s Mural Division gave her valuable experience working on a larger scale. During the 1930s, Krasner was an active member of such organizations as the Artists Union and American Abstract Artists. Her commitment to political activism continued throughout her life.

For eleven years Krasner was married to Jackson Pollock, the most famous, and most controversial Abstract Expressionist painter. Inevitably, his career and his flamboyant lifestyle overshadowed her reputation, even though Krasner was producing pioneering, totally abstract, painterly canvases at least two years before Pollock developed his signature drip-painting technique.

While continuing to promote Pollock’s art, Krasner kept discovering new approaches to her own paintings and collages. She had her first solo exhibition at New York’s prestigious Betty Parsons Gallery in 1951 and her first major retrospective in 1965 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London. During the early 1970s, Krasner’s contribution to Abstract Expressionism began to be reevaluated. The last decade of her life was marked by numerous honors, awards, publications, and exhibitions.

Other Occupation(s):
Activist, Feminist
Place(s) of Residence:
East Hampton
Where Trained/Schools:
Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, New York, NY, USA (1937-1940) City College and Greenwich House, New York, NY, USA (1933) National Academy of Design, New York, NY, USA (1928-1932) The Art Students League of New York, New York, NY, USA (1928) Women's School of Design, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY, USA (1926-1928)
Related Visual Artists:
wife of Jackson Pollock friend of Helen Frankenthaler friend of Grace Hartigan friend of Betty Parsons friend of Arshile Gorky friend of John Graham student of Hans Hofmann student of Max Spivak influenced by Piet Mondrian influenced by Pablo Picasso influenced by Henri Matisse
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Caucus for Art, New York, NY, USA (1980) Lowe Fellowship for Distinction, Barnard College, New York, NY, USA (1974) Augustus Saint Gaudens Medal, The Cooper Union Alumni Association, New York, NY, USA (1974)
Earliest exhibition:
Pink Slips Over Culture, ACA Galleries, New York, NY, USA (1937)
NMWA exhibition(s):
Women Artists of the New Deal Era: A Selection of Prints and Drawings
Four Centuries of Women's Art: The National Museum of Women in the Arts
Artist retrospective(s):
Lee Krasner, Independent Curators International, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA (1999-2001) Lee Krasner: A Retrospective, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA (1983-1985) Lee Krasner: Paintings, Drawings, and Collages, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, England (1965)
Related places
New York (died at)
The Springs