The Barbican Art Gallery in East London, I always think, is a difficult place to find, with all the other events taking place at the Arts Centre. And when inside I always find it odd that you start the tour at a point half way round the gallery. That having been said the exhibitions are always well worth the effort. The current retrospective of Lee Krasner is sumptuous and firmly places her among the most accomplished painters of Modern Art.
Lee Krasner (1908-1984), born in Brooklyn , could be said to be the pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, that most American of art movements. She set out on an art career from very early on and despite formal figurative training was always attracted to the strength and simplicity of abstraction. Her early figurative work, in particular her self portraits, attracted early attention leading to a tutorial spell with Hans Hoffman in life drawing.
Public propaganda work and the War Services Project work kept her going until artistic freedom came her way in the 50s and her large expressionist canvases started to appear. The Barbican exhibition’s ground floor displays some of these large canvases on the ground floor including the Night Journeys and primary series.
Jackson Pollock, or more accurately her grief over his death, inspired the haunting Prophecy series, which is a real highlight of the exhibition, the first time all four paintings (Birth, Prophecy, Embrace and Three in One) have been displayed in the U.K. in many texts Krasner is introduced as Pollocks wife but on the evidence of this retrospective the reverse would be more accurate that Pollock was her husband.
This wonderfully curated exhibition Lee Krasner – Living Colour is on at the Barbican until September 1st and celebrates the first major exhibition of Lee Krasner’s art in Europe since the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1965.