Artists & Designers

Lee Krasner (1911-1984)

Abstract Expressionist painter Lee Krasner was born in 1911 in Brooklyn, New York. She studied in New York City at the Women's Art School of Cooper Union, the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, New York City College, and the Greenwich House. After working in the Public Works of Art Project in 1934 and for the WPA in 1935, Krasner continued her studies in the Hofmann School of Fine Arts, where she worked with Hans Hofmann from 1937 to 1940, producing her own adaptations of Picasso and Matisse. She began showing with the American Abstract Artists group in 1940, and through the group met Piet Mondrian soon after his arrival in the U.S. During this time, Krasner also met John Graham, an eccentric Russian emigré artist, whose ideas regarding the spiritual roots of modern art and the conviction that abstract art would embody content if it emanated from the artist's unconscious, helped to legitimate her own goal to move in a more abstract direction.

In 1942, she exhibited with Jackson Pollock, whom she married in 1945. Although the Krasner/Pollock relationship was a reciprocal one in artistic terms, Krasner came into her own as an artist after Pollock's death in 1956; she increased the scale and intensity of her work and tapped into more personal content. In her work of the 70s, her collage paintings that incorporated fragments of her own paintings from the 30s suggested her vision of the past as a source of renewal and sustenance. A quintessential Abstract Expressionist, she asserted that her work constituted her autobiography.

Adapted from

DMA unpublished material.

Fun Facts

  • Krasner decided to become an artist at age 13, leading to her application and acceptance at Washington Irving High School, the only New York public high school at the time to allow women in their art program.

  • Krasner's first retrospective exhibition opened in October of 1983 at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and then traveled to various US locations. Despite ill health, she was able to make it to the opening. Sadly, Krasner died in June of 1984, never able to see her retrospective make its final stop at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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