Lee Krasner at The Whitney

The Seasons, 1957, Lee Krasner (1908-1984), The Whitney, New York.

One of the pleasures of the founding exhibition of the new Whitney (2015) is to be in the presence of this painting.  It takes up a whole wall. 

 

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Grief-stricken, Lee Krasner was asking herself whether there was any point going on working after the death of her husband, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), in a car crash in 1956.   This, she said, was her answer.

 

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In the same area hangs a painting by Jackson Pollock.  It is completely overshadowed by his wife’s statement of her professional and personal survival.  This is unusual : Jackson Pollock’s work is, generally, so energetic as to overwhelm whatever is around.

 

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Detail

 

In fact, Lee Krasner’s painting dominates the entire collection of the New York School, 1940-1960, placed around it.   You approach her painting, walk its length, study it, are lifted by it and then pass behind it.  At that point you are passing, on a sunny day, into the blazing light of floor to ceiling windows.  You are prepared to face such brilliance and colour.  A door allows you to exit to an outside terrace: to the world.

 

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Of the Abstract Expressionists, only Arshile Gorky’s remembrance of his mother and himself as a young man ( her hands covered in heart-wrenching recognition of her inaccessibility to him)  has been placed outside the orbit of Lee Krasner’s magnificent painting.  Arshile Gorky’s painting hangs alone in its own space: a quiet area near a window.

Lee Krasner, Whitney June 2015-3  Lee Krasner, Whitney June 2015-1

 

 

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Krasner, 2002, woodcut.  Dan Miller, American born 1928.  Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art

 

 

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