Collage Paintings 1938–1981
When an exhibition of her works bombed in 1951, Lee Krasner tore the canvases to shreds — but the act was not solely one of destruction. Throughout her life, Krasner would annihilate and re-appropriate in a never-ending ritual cycle of creation. It is only fitting that she would turn to the medium of collage. A new solo show at Kasmin Gallery is dedicated to collage paintings Krasner made across five decades.
Known to be a brilliant student of art history—Picasso’s cubism influenced her early paintings, and her collages were partially inspired by Matisse’s cutouts—Krasner studied under Hans Hofmann in 1937, one year before the earliest works in this exhibition are dated. Yet Imperfect Indicative (1976), made late in her life, collages charcoal drawings she made under his tutelage decades before. The medium line is nearly the only characteristic that links the work to others in the show, such as the cubist-inflected still life of Seated Figure (1938-9), or the rollicking bright-blue verticals of the monumental Untitled (1954).
Collage is only one of the manifold media Krasner worked in—she made mosaic tables, cubist oil paintings, swirling, stormy abex works, and limited-palette Umber paintings—but it might best encompass her spirit. After all, her restless reinvention in pursuit of the avant-garde in abstraction is only another facet in that cycle of destruction and creation that defines her oeuvre.
Lee Krasner, The Farthest Point, 1981. Oil and paper collage on canvas,
56 3/4 x 37 1/4 inches. © 2021 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Kasmin Gallery.