This lecture, set in New York City during the Great Depression, will focus on the formative years of Brooklyn-born painter, Lee Krasner (1908-1984), beginning with her study at the National Academy of Design. There she met her long-time companion, the artist Igor Pantuhoff, a Russian émigré, whose family had been close to the Czar. We will follow Krasner’s progress from academic art to modernism, prompted in part by the opening of the Museum of Modern Art; Krasner’s study with the German émigré, Hans Hofmann; her participation as a muralist in the Federal Art Project known as the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and, later, in the American Abstract Artists (championed by Mondrian and Léger). This talk examines Krasner’s engagement with the Artists Union, and her radical political pursuits, including activism that resulted in her arrest. Krasner’s struggles as a woman will be contrasted with the experiences of her influential male friends including John Graham, Arshile Gorky and Willem de Kooning.
Gail Levin is Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at The Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. The acknowledged authority on the American realist painter Edward Hopper, she is author of many books and articles on this artist, including the catalogue raisonné and Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography. Her work on twentieth century and contemporary art has won international acclaim, been widely published, and translated in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Articles range from theory of artists’ biographies to explorations of the intersection of American and Asian cultural studies. She has also focused on the art of Jewish women artists in historical context. Her interest in women artists led to biographies of Judy Chicago (2007) and of Lee Krasner (2011).