Lee Krasner: A Biography
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Lee Krasner: A Biography

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  165 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Lee Krasner is best known as the artist-wife of Jackson Pollock, the renowned abstract expressionist painter. Yet in this riveting new biography, the first full-length account of her colorful life, distinguished art historian Gail Levin challenges previous portrayals of Krasner, and shows that she was an independent and resourceful woman of uncompromising talent and prodig...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by William Morrow (first published March 10th 2011)
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Jonathan Lopez
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...more
Heather
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
Louise
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...more
Mythili
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...more
Loel
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.
Kathleen
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.
Emily
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.
Stephanie
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.
Annie
Aug 26, 2012 Annie added it
Slow start, picks up about the point you think you want to put it down. Informative and worthwhile. Wish it were smoother, but I got the info I wanted about Krasner's approach to painting and building her reputation as a major artist.
Virginia Bryant
enjoyable for the personal info gained first hand.
Simone
Krasner did what she had to do to get by in a world & time when women artists were never allowed to be legitimately considered as equals to their male peers. A story of a survivor (IMHO), but also a cautionary tale of someone not ever given their due. I found many of the men detestable, using women as props, sex objects, and refusing to even consider the art of their female peers worthy. A complicated story, I eagerly tore through parts of it and plodded through others. The author could/shou...more
Linda Edquist
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.
Jan
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
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.
Susan Weinberg


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.
Teri
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.
Marcia
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!
Laurel
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.
Arielle
All I have to say is: Peggy Guggenheim we always knew you were a hussy! (P.S. I'm not slut-shaming.)
Kate
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.
Danielle
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
I couldn't finish this one - got bogged down in the minutia included in the bio. Too bad - love Krasner
Suzanne
Written by a colleague, an interesting read if you're interested in the art history of it all.
Curtis Butturff
There likely would be no Pollock as he is now known without Krasner.
Julie Lenoch
Interesting, and have read other artist's bios by this author.
Anne Mann
Anne Mann marked it as to-read
Apr 15, 2014
Kathryngriffin98
Kathryngriffin98 marked it as to-read
Apr 15, 2014
Kris
Kris marked it as to-read
Apr 13, 2014
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Apr 11, 2014
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127831
Distinguished Professor of Art History, Baruch College and the Graduate School of the City University of New York
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