Lee Krasner: A Biography
Perhaps best known as the long-suffering wife of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner is now, finally, being recognized as one of the 20th century’s modernist masters. In Lee Krasner, author Gail Levin gives us an engrossing biography of the painter—so memorably portrayed in the movie Pollack by actor Marcia Gay Harden, who won an Academy Award for her performance—a firebrand and trailblazer for women’s rights as well as an exceptional artist who led a truly fascinating life.
announcement for the show still spelled her name with the double s. The few other women artists in the large show included Elaine de Kooning and Grace Hartigan.14 On June 7 the Pollocks were back in Springs, and Jackson wrote to Ossorio that Krasner was preparing for her first solo exhibition in New York City.15 Pollock had persuaded his dealer, Betty Parsons, to show her work. Parsons later explained that she “didn’t believe in having husband and wife in the same gallery. Jackson knew this—he
claimed that Victor Perard taught Alcove III on the complete figure. 11. Woman’s Art School, report card notes she entered in 2-1926. See LKP, AAA, roll 3771, frame 26. 12. “Cooper Union Opens for Its 68th Year,” NYT, October 6, 1927, 14. 13. Ethel Traphagen’s collection of nineteenth-century costumes is now in the Historic Costumes and Textile Collection at Ohio State University. She taught at Cooper Union from 1912 through 1931; see “Ethel Traphagen Leigh Is Dead; Founded Fashion School in
times during 2007. 65. 1983-Hughes, 92. 66. Susie Kalil, “Lee Krasner: A Life’s Work,” Artweek, December 10, 1983, 1. 67. William Wilson, “Woman behind Jackson Pollock Steps up Front,” Los Angeles Times, AAA, reel 3776, frame 1000-A. For examples of Wilson’s writing about feminist art, see also 2007-Levin, 140–41, 207, 248, 299. 68. Thomas Albright, “Krasner: Energy Rather Than Power,” Review, February 26, 1984, 12–13. Albright would die of lung cancer at the age of forty-eight later that
strengthened, causing a growing tension in their relationship. Other troubling issues that divided them, as observed by friends like Michael Loew and Robert Jonas, were Pantuhoff’s womanizing and the fact that his family refused to meet Krasner because she was Jewish. Regardless, Igor gave Lee the book Paintings and Drawings of Matisse by Jean Cassou, which he inscribed: “To Lee with admiration from Igor, 1939, New York.”85 Beyond recognizing her passion for Matisse with this gift, Igor
‘ism,’ which, Mr. Putzel believes, has been developing since around 1940.”87 At this time, Krasner went to work in studio space rented from Reuben Kadish. He recalled that she and Jackson needed to be apart: “They were so competitive then, so much so that Lee couldn’t work in the same space as Jackson, and I rented her a room in my studio.”88 Krasner produced a few works such as Image Surfacing, where forms were beginning to emerge from her thick gray foundation that had previously threatened to