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Lee Krasner: A Biography

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  306 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Perhaps best known as the long-suffering wife of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner is now, finally, being recognized as one of the 20th century’s modernist masters. In Lee Krasner, author Gail Levin gives us an engrossing biography of the painter—so memorably portrayed in the movie Pollack by actor Marcia Gay Harden, who won an Academy Award for her performance—a firebrand and ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by William Morrow (first published March 10th 2011)
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Jonathan Lopez
Mar 20, 2011 Jonathan Lopez rated it really liked it
Shortly before World War I, Marie-Hortense Cézanne, widow of the painter Paul, spent a weekend in Monaco as the guest of an art dealer. He granted her unlimited credit at the casino, and after losing at the gaming tables, she had to cede him a cache of her husband's best watercolors to settle accounts. The heirs of a great artist must learn to swim with sharks.

Not such easy prey, however, was Jackson Pollock's widow, the tough-minded painter Lee Krasner. Aware that Pollock's legacy was potential
Oct 13, 2011 Heather rated it liked it
I enjoyed learning about Lee Krasner but thought this biography could have been about 100 pages shorter. Really well researched by the author, who apparently knew Krasner in her later years, maybe she needed to take a step back from her subject and realize that not every detail is important. Oh, and the repetitiveness of certain facts: Krasner and de Kooning did not get along, the Harold Rosenberg/ Clement Greenberg critic faceoff, Lee Krasner was painting abstractly before she met Pollock, she ...more
Sep 26, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, artists
This volume is a long over due recognition of a great American artist. Ironically as author Gail Levin points out, this artist, so instrumental in creating an American art saw art as a universal, not a national, endeavor. Similarly, she felt the same about gender; there should be no "female painters" or "lady's shows". Because her life and art are testaments to her beliefs, the book is understandably celebratory.

Lena Krasner was not a child to accept gender discrimination. She resented segregati
Mar 29, 2011 Mythili rated it really liked it
The Brooklyn-born daughter of Jewish immigrants from Russia, by the time Lena Krasner was thirteen, she knew she wanted to be a painter. She studied art at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, worked as a nude model and waitress, enrolled in teaching classes at City College, and, during the Great Depression, took WPA jobs (one involved drawing fossils for a geology textbook).

An early abstract impressionist, Krasner was already peers with artists like Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning
Linda Edquist
Nov 03, 2012 Linda Edquist rated it liked it
I will say Levin is thorough but it does get somewhat boring with all of her "list's" of who's who at what opening - school etc in the first half of the book. Then is gets bogged down with Pollock which I guess is natural. The book really takes off after the death of Pollock. It is then that I feel I finally got into the person Lee Krasner really was. I would recommend plugging through because the outline of the abstract expressionist movement can be found in the Krasner life story.
Jun 23, 2013 Loel rated it really liked it
Overshadowed by her husband Jackson Pollock, Krasner was a wonderful artist in her own right. This bio tells her story well, and with it a woman's view of the macho abstract expressionist movement. So many bios turn out dry as dirt, filled with long lists of dates and people that make me doze off. This one has its share, but not to a burdensome degree, and the drama of Krasner's life takes the lead.
Susan Weinberg
Dec 04, 2012 Susan Weinberg rated it liked it

Slogged through this book for an arts book club. It was like reading a 700 page research paper that needed a good editor. While the topic was an interesting one, the book was slow going because of the author's focus on unnecessary minutiae. I felt that I learned about Krasner and the Abstract Expressionists, but some editing would have made it a more pleasurable read.
Mar 22, 2013 Kathleen rated it did not like it
Shelves: art, biography, 2013
I do not like this book. It's a string of facts with no soul. Lee Krasner remains unknown to me. The one good thing is that color reproductions of her art are included. I read the Ebook, so didn't discover this until.i came upon the pages, toward the end. Thumbing through a paper book would have shown me the art right away. OK, so there is a heart to the book. Her art.
Mar 13, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The artist daughter of immigrant Jews, Lee Krasner balked at the notion of a purely "American" art. She was smart, tough, sophisticated, and vulnerable, every bit the match for her difficult husband, Jackson Pollock, and the critics who fought for his favors. This bio captures the mental toughness and critical eye that helped Krasner navigate the macho world of Expressionism.
Oct 21, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
This was a fabulous biography. I know understand who Lee Krasner was and what drove her life as an artist and as a wife to the tormented "genius," Jackson Pollock. Levin also does a great job at capturing the times with her many details about the artists that crossed paths with Krasner.
May 02, 2015 Adarsh rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. it was right up my alley with lots of details about Krasner and her struggles against the chauvinism amongst other painters in her day. Also gave interesting details of the first generation Abstarct Expressionist painters and their interactions.
Aug 01, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok
I was really looking forward to this, I enjoy Lee Krasner and the discussion of women in art, but it was just poorly written and the research seemed bias with holes in it. Just...bad, bad biography writing.
Mar 04, 2016 Theresa rated it did not like it
So excited to find this book with such excellent reviews. But it is nothing more than one fact after another. Unreadable.
Virginia Bryant
Aug 30, 2011 Virginia Bryant rated it it was amazing
enjoyable for the personal info gained first hand.
Aug 28, 2016 Constance rated it it was ok
I award Lee Krasner 5 stars. The book only two stars. I wanted to give up the last 150 pages, but as I always say...I owe it to the book to finish it. In this case I owe it to Ms Krasner to finish it.

The author might have cut this down to an easy 300 pages. The mentioned people continued to multiply with every page. One needed a flow chart to keep up. I appreciate the research that went into this biography, however I felt Ms Levin just wanted to "hear" herself talk with her writing.

There were 2
Dec 16, 2014 Marsmannix rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, art
Really good story of the genius woman who set her life aside for her husband Jackson Pollack.
Everyone should read this.
Sep 25, 2011 janicec100 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty interesting book. Lee Krasner was an incredible artist in her own right but the book implies that female artists had a harder time establishing themselves. To me, however, I got the impression that she had a difficult personality which probably also added to some of her roadblocks. I probably read this book to get another insight into her husband, Jackson Pollack and the book did give some more info about their marriage.
Richard Sanford
Aug 13, 2011 Richard Sanford rated it really liked it
In a year full of really strong artist bios - Alice Neel and Modigliani come immediately to mind - this took the cake for me (so far). An artist I already liked and a milieu I already dig but brought more to life than any other book about the period I've read and clearly written by someone with an aesthetic background and a real interest in the shifting social-political atmosphere that informed the art and the business decisions.
Dec 07, 2011 Teri rated it really liked it
i liked this alot...not enough about women artists in general and it really made clear to me that Lee was an established artist before Pollack. I really got a feel for life in art circles in NYC before the big birth of abstract expressionsim. Really filled a void for me. She was out there with really no role models as to how to survive in the art world.
Carol Rodi
Sep 28, 2015 Carol Rodi rated it really liked it
A very detail account of her life in general from growing up, becoming an artist, then the wife of Jackson Pollock, and then on, after his death. Lots of dates, names, and galleries. A strong woman in every way, as well as a gifted artist in her own right. This will be one of my remains on my shelf to dip in and out of at will.
Apr 26, 2011 Marcia rated it it was ok
I was interested, because I am interested in Lee Krasner, but this was nowhere near the fascinating book about Pollack that I read a few years ago. Too bad, because she was quite the woman and quite the artist. I would love to see a retrospective of her work!
Jul 30, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it
This book places Lee Krasner as her own artist and her own person instead of as the widow of Jackson Pollack. It is very well written and very readable and if you have any interest in 20th century American art this book is required reading.
Nov 27, 2012 Laurel rated it really liked it
I love biographies of artists. This one was very good. It gave the historical background necessary to understand Krasner's character and work. I perceived a secular feminist agenda in Levin, but it did not overpower the book.
Jun 05, 2011 Danielle marked it as to-read
Will have to read this later as it has to go back to the library unfinished--enjoyed what little I read, however.
Amy F
May 15, 2011 Amy F rated it did not like it
I couldn't finish this one - got bogged down in the minutia included in the bio. Too bad - love Krasner
May 17, 2016 Ari rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
All I have to say is: Peggy Guggenheim we always knew you were a hussy! (P.S. I'm not slut-shaming.)
Maria Plaksina
Mar 19, 2016 Maria Plaksina rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed that book. Well researched and not boring! Learn a lot about the time and people.
Aug 03, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Mar 13, 2012 Suzanne rated it liked it
Written by a colleague, an interesting read if you're interested in the art history of it all.
Curtis Butturff
Jan 12, 2012 Curtis Butturff rated it it was amazing
There likely would be no Pollock as he is now known without Krasner.
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Distinguished Professor of Art History, Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York
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