Lee Krasner biography
Lee Krasner was born October 27, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York. In 1934 the WPA hired her to paint murals. From 1937–1940, she studied under Hans Hoffmann. She married Jackson Pollock in 1945. In the 1950s, she created her Night Journey series. She had a retrospective solo exhibition in London in 1965. During the 1970s, she took a second stab at collage work. Krasner died on June 19, 1984, in New York City.
Abstract painter and collage artist Lee Krasner was born Lena Krassner on October 27, 1908, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, she liked to be called Lenore, and later shortened the nickname to Lee, while also removing the second "s" from her last name.
Krasner's parents were Russian Jewish immigrants who fled to the United States to escape anti-Semitism and the Russo-Japanese War. Krasner was the youngest of six children, and the only one of her siblings to be born in the United States. When she was 14, she enrolled at Washington Irving High School in New York City, where she was able to study studio art. When she graduated from high school in 1925, Krasner was awarded a scholarship to attend the Women's Art School of Cooper Union. Following her graduation from Cooper Union, Krasner pursued yet more art education at the illustrious National Academy of Design, completing her course load there in 1932.
Having graduated in the midst of the Great Depression, Krasner took what work she could to make ends meet—including modeling and waitressing. Despite her initial struggles, Krasner didn't give up her dream of making it as a full-time artist.
Krasner was given good reason to believe her dream could become a reality when in 1934 she was hired by the Works Progress Administration's Public Works of Art Project to paint murals. Before long, she was promoted to supervisor. Thanks to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal art program, Krasner was able to work fairly steadily for the WPA's Federal Art Project up until 1943, when the agency was dissolved.
Studying Under Hoffmann
In 1937, while she was still working for the WPA, Krasner decided to pursue more art training at the 8th Street atelier run by renowned German artist Hans Hoffmann. Through her exposure to Hoffmann's modernist theories, her formerly naturalist paintings and drawings took on a cubist approach and reached a new level of sophistication. Her involvement in the New York art scene extended to include political causes. To this end, Krasner joined the American Abstract Artists, which afforded her more opportunities to exhibit her work as a burgeoning young modernist painter. Krasner's association with Hoffmann's atelier lasted through 1940.
Marriage to Pollock
In 1941, Krasner met fellow artist Jackson Pollock. The two were married in 1945, after which they moved to East Hampton, Long Island. Under Pollock's artistic influence, Krasner produced her Little Image series. As Pollock's alcoholism increasingly affected the marriage, Krasner moved on to experimenting with multimedia collages such as "Milkweed" (1955). In 1956 Pollock was killed in a drunk-driving accident right in front of the couple's farm.
Struggling to cope with the sudden loss, Krasner refocused on her first passion, painting. Expressing her anger with large-scale, colorful abstract imagery, in the late 1950s Krasner created her Earth Green and Night Journey series.
Later Work and Death
In the early 1960s, Krasner was living back in Manhattan when she nearly died of a brain aneurysm. After a two-year recovery period, Krasner returned to refining nature-inspired works. In 1965 she had a retrospective solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, later followed by a solo exhibition at the Whitney in 1975. In the late 1970s she took another stab at collage work.
Krasner died of diverticulitis on June 19, 1984, in New York City.