Friday, July 28, 2017

Krassner Without Pollock: "What Beast Must I Adore?"

Ready to rejoice? Women of Abstract Expressionism (Yale University Press, 2016) is a long overdue survey of the contributions of female artists to the movement that flourished in New York and San Francisco in the 1940s and ‘50s, the first movement that artists could claim was uniquely American. What I love about this book, besides the full-color plate illustrations, are the biographies of more than 40 artists, most of whom I didn’t know. In addition to the better-known Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, and Joan Mitchell, we discover the work of Michael (Corinne) West (1908-1991), Ethel Schwabacher (1903-1984), Anne Ryan (1889-1954), Deborah Remington (1930-2010), Bernice Bing (1936-1998),and many more. Talented painters, like Lee Krassner and Elaine de Kooning, struggled to get recognition on their own merits after their husbands—Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, became famous. As Krassner once remarked, “I daresay that a great deal of my so-called position or lack of position, whichever you want to call it, in the official art world is based on the association with Pollock. It is almost impossible to deal with me without…Pollock.” (Art Talk: Conversations with 15 Women Artists, Harper-Collins, 1975) 

So here’s a tip of the chapeau, to the painter who drew inspiration from Arthur Rimbaud’s lines in A Season in Hell, lines that Krassner had pinned to her studio wall.

   To whom shall I hire myself out?  What beast must I adore?
   What holy image is attacked?  What hearts shall I break?
What lie must I maintain?  In what blood tread?

Lee Krassner, "What Beast Must I Adore?" 1961
Lee Krassner, Self-Portrait, 1930
Lee Krassner, Igor, 1943
Milkweed, 1955
Imperative, 1976

1 comment:

  1. i am a student artist and it is absolutely important for me to keep myself inspired. this is why i come to your blog usually because you seem to be doing an amazing job at it