Lenore Krassner was born on 27 October 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at the Women’s Art School of Cooper Union, New York, from 1926 to 1928, taking in a summer session in 1928 at the Art Students League, and continued her studies at the National Academy of Design from 1929 to 1932. In 1935 she was employed on the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration,[1] and it was during this time that she dropped the second ‘s’ from her family name and began to use the androgynous first name ‘Lee’ rather than Lenore. From 1937 until 1940 Krasner attended classes at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts, New York. She joined the American Abstract Artists group in 1940 and exhibited that year, for the first time, in their fourth annual exhibition in New York. In 1942 she participated in the group exhibition American and French paintings, selected by John Graham for the McMillen Gallery, New York. Jackson Pollock also participated in this exhibition and, after the show, he and Krasner became constant companions; they married in 1945.

Krasner’s first solo exhibition was at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1951. It was not until the mid 1960s, however, that her work began to receive due recognition. A retrospective exhibition was held in 1965 at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, which then toured Britain. In the late 1960s she held a number of solo exhibitions at Marlborough Gallery, New York. The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, organised an exhibition of Krasner’s larger works in 1973, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, mounted a retrospective of her drawings and collages in 1975. In 1983 the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, organised a large retrospective which travelled to San Francisco, New York and Paris. Krasner died in New York on 27 June 1984, while this exhibition was still touring.


[1] The Federal Art Projects of the Works Progress Administration was a Great Depression-era scheme; artists were employed to produce works, usually for public buildings, as well as painting and posters.