In 1984, Lee Krasner died at the age of 75, after having lived out a career which lasted 5 decades. Unfortunately, even though Krasner was a prolific and exceptionally talented artist, as a woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry her work got little attention, and was also all too often overshadowed by that of her husband, the famed Jackson Pollock. In the face of Pollock’s unstable mental health, alcoholism, and considerable popularity as an abstract expressionist painter in the wake of the second world war, Krasner filled the roll of supportive spouse with loyalty and fortitude until Pollock’s death in 1956. Despite these hinderances, Krasner’s artistic legacy is rich; in a survey show which opened last Thursday, the Robert Miller Gallery* in Chelsea exhibited some of Krasner’s greatest works, encapsulating her intensely expressive yet balanced style. In her lifetime, Krasner’s artwork was frequently criticized for being too ‘tidy’and organized, especially when compared to her late husband’s work, but without that bias, her work is not so much tidy as it is deliberate, and each stroke of her brush has intention, direction. This is not to say, however, that her paintings are restrained, on the contrary, Krasner’s purposeful strokes lend a thoughtful expressiveness to her work. In return, Krasner’s work requires a reciprocal thoughtfulness from its viewers; to fully absorb one of her paintings can be a lengthly and consuming process, but without question worth the trouble. This is because Krasner expertly strikes balance between minimalism and drama so her paintings are intriguing but not overwhelming, a quality that is essential to the overall accessibility of her work, which is personal to a familiar degree. It is easy to sympathize with a Krasner painting, because it is complex enough to sink one’s teeth into but understandable enough that one doesn’t have to chew too hard. Krasner’s mastery of balance extends to colors too, and her palettes are often warm and inviting, complimentary, and alluring in their own respect. Overall, her show at the Robert Miller Gallery reveals an acutely contemplative mind, a capable touch and overall sef-awareness which is rarely so thoroughly communicated in art.
*Lee Krasner’s survey show at the
Robert Miller Gallery, 524 W 26 ST,
From April 21st- June 4