Door 14: Lee Krasner

Photography © Hans Namuth

Many artists struggle to be appreciated during their lifetime, they are overlooked and stand in the shadows of their peers. Unfortunately it is often the case for artists' wives, who wrongfully only get this description. A prime example is the American expressionist artist Lee Krasner.

Born in 1908 in Brooklyn to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents, she showed an interest in art from an early age. As it was not common for girls to study art at that time she specifically enrolled at Washington Irving High School for Girls, which offered an Art major and then studied The Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. As depression was in full swing, she worked for WPA Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943, producing public murals.

From 1937 she took classes with Hans Hofmann, who opened introduced her to cubism and neo-cubism. He saw her talent and coined this difficult phrase: "This is so good you would not know it was painted by a woman." In 1940 she joined the American Abstract Artists, through which got to know her future husband Jackson Pollock, whom she married in 1945.

The duo, despite a tumultuous relationship, gave each other feedback and helped each other in a period, where neither's work was appreciated. Lee Krasner is especially known for her collages, which are a result of torn paintings, that she was not satisfied with. Coming back to the studio a few days later, she liked the composition of the torn pieces.

Her continuous critique of her own work made her regularly question and change her style, which made it difficult for scholars to pin her down. But her strong impact and force of her work, which consists of less than 600 works, present to this day, confirm her path.