Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lee Krasner: The Real Story

I don't want to return Gail Levin's new biography of Lee Krasner to the library.  It was such a compelling read, I don't want to let it out of my hands.  What a picture of an era: all the ferment of the early development of Abstract Expressionism in America, and the story of Lee Krasner as a complex and powerful woman who was a radical creative explorer in the center of it all before she ever met Jackson Pollock. We learn exactly how Krasner's contribution was rendered invisible by the (non) role of women artists in the 1940's and 50's,  as well as a subtle anti-Semitism along with the sexism.  How she balanced being Mrs. Jackson Pollock, promoting his work and insuring his legacy after his death, while continuing her own unique painting at the same time is an inspiring story. The images above hardly begin to convey the breadth of her work.

There's also a lot of juicy gossip in this book, like which critics were sleeping with whose wives, which got shows for who at what galleries...  For we voyeurs who want the scoop on some of the famous names, this book is a lot of fun.  It certainly makes some of the luminaries down to earth and human.

Mostly it makes me deeply appreciate what Lee Krasner's legacy is for every woman artist who has come after her.

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