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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Self-Portrait, oil on linen. Lee Krasner, 1908-1984, American. The Jewish Museum, NY
Krasner, 2002, woodcut. Dan Miller, American born 1928. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art