Krasner, Lee (1908–1984) By Landau, Ellen C.
Lee Krasner, born 27 October 1908 in Brooklyn, New York to immigrant parents from Russia, was an abstract expressionist painter whose status as the sole female pioneer of the movement is widely recognized. After attending the National Academy of Design and Cooper Union, Krasner’s talent blossomed at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, where she developed a radical understanding of the implications of modernism. Throughout her lifetime and long after, Krasner’s artistic career was overshadowed by her role as the wife (and widow) of Jackson Pollock. Credited by critic Clement Greenberg as ‘‘absolutely catalytic’’ for Pollock’s aesthetic development, Krasner shrewdly managed his reputation and prices after his untimely death. This allowed her to establish the Pollock–Krasner Foundation in her will with a multi-million-dollar endowment to support needy and neglected artists. In her Little Image series, created after she and Pollock moved from Manhattan to Long Island in 1945, Krasner explored the possibilities of drawing (and sometimes dripping) in paint in a manner similar to Pollock. By the time Lee Krasner died, on June 20, 1984 in New York City, she was considered a role model for feminist artists. The complexity of what has been characterized as her ‘‘working relationship’’ with Jackson Pollock is a defining feature of her importance to the history of postwar American art.