A powerful rendering by the artist in her twenties, this picture was made with a practical purpose; it was painted as a reception piece for admission to the life-drawing course at the National Academy of Design. While Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984) is best known for the personal style that she developed within the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 19540s, this self portrait (c. 1930) is a rare example of her early work, using the thick brushwork and high color of the Impressionists and Realists of the previous generation. Strikingly, Krasner depicts herself at work in nature. She eyes the viewer, who stands on the spot where, presumably, a mirror hangs on a tree. Her expression and strong handling of light and shade evoke the resolve of a young woman rising to the challenge of her artistic vocation.
In The Seasons (1957), Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984) combined a traditional subject with modern, pictorial form, the all-over composition. Historically, the subject of the four seasons has offered artists the opportunity for allegorical mediations on the life cycle. Krasner’s version exemplifies the regenerative portion of that cycle, with boldly, almost garishly colored plant forms that seem to morph into sexual organs.
This monumental painting offered Krasner an outlet during a time of deep personal sorrow. The year before, her husband, and fellow artist Jackson Pollock, had died in a car accident. In the wake of the sudden loss, Krasner remarked about The seasons, “the question came up whether one would continue painting at all, and I guess this was my answer.”
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC.
Of all the modern artists about whom people who “don’t get” art might look at their work and say, “Oh, my kid could paint that,” American Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock is likely close to the top of that list. Above, you will see the oil on canvas work, Shimmering Substance (1946) which is occasionally on view at the Museum of Modern Art as part of its Permanent Collection. To me, the colors, textures and movement of this painting are just breathtaking.
While Pollock’s distinctive Splatter and Drip paintings may appear to be impulsive and random, they in fact full of intention and purpose. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety and was a major artist of his generation. However, he had a volatile personality, was not the greatest husband (Pollock was married the far superior artist Lee Krasner) and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. Jackson Pollock died in 1956 at the age of 44 in an alcohol-related, single-car accident in which he was driving. For anyone who seeks to understated the life and art of Jackson Pollock, I highly recommend the Academy Award-winning film Pollock (2000) directed by and starring Ed Harris.
Geoffrey and I were in the thick of an exhausting Art Crawl last Saturday, trying to catch up on dozens of exhibits whose opening receptions we weren’t able to hit on September 12th — the official kick off to the NY Art Scene’s Fall/Winter Season — when we were drawn into the Leila Heller Gallery by the colorful graphic mural by Tunisian artist el Seed wrapping the gallery’s windows from 25th Street around the corner and down 11th Avenue.
La2’s Homage to Keith Haring Graffiti Room
I really enjoyed this exhibit, which has close to a hundred pieces by dozens of contributing artists. Read the press release for more information at This Link. I’m just going to post photos I took of a few of my favorite pieces without much further commentary, if any.