American painter, born in Brooklyn, New York, as Lenore Krassner. Between 1926 and 1932 she studied at the Cooper Union School and the National Academy of Design, and in 1937 she was a pupil of Hans *Hofmann. She recalled that what was most important was not his lessons on painting but the seriousness of his attitude towards art. Her early work was naturalistic, but by 1940 she had turned to abstraction and was exhibiting with *American Abstract Artists.
In 1941 she met Jackson *Pollock, and she married him in 1945 (they separated shortly before Pollock's death because of his affair with another woman). They sometimes exhibited together in group shows, and Krasner was an important source of encouragement and support to Pollock, whose attitude to his work fluctuated from supreme confidence to dismal uncertainty. She was herself an *Abstract Expressionist painter of some distinction, but it was only after her husband's death in 1956 that she began to receive serious critical recognition. David Anfam writes that ‘Prejudice alone kept Lee Krasner outside standard histories…her fellow artists held the same assumptions about gender that most Americans had then. At one of their hangouts, the Cedar Tavern, Krasner recalled women being “treated like cattle”.’ When her work was exhibited alongside Pollock's in 1949 in an exhibition entitled ‘Artists: Man and Wife’ at the Sydney *Janis Gallery, Art News singled out her work as an example of the ‘tendency among some of these wives to “tidy up” their husband's style’. The *feminist art historian Anne Middleton Wagner sees the work in a more positive light, as a product of her different roles as artist, wife, and widow. Krasner's most substantial and ambitious paintings such as Gothic Landscape (1961, Tate) postdate Pollock's death. She frequently made use of collage, employing her own cut-up drawings. Her handling of the Pollock estate gave rise to allegations that paintings were being released slowly for financial reasons. Further Reading A. M. Wagner, Three Artists (Three Women) (1996)
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)