BCD#3

Blind contour drawing #3 – “Listen” 1957 Lee Krasner

 

Lee Krasner had a career in art that lasted 55 years.

Krasner’s spunk was evident early in her life. As a teenager, she decided to become an artist, which was a daring choice for a young immigrant woman. She was accepted to the Washington Irving High School, the only New York City public high school at the time that allowed women to study art.

She continued to study art in post secondary first at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science in 1926, and then at the Art Students League. Later at the prestigious National Academy of Design, it has been noted that her conservative teachers often reprimanded her for her independence, something they thought unsuitable for a woman. She studied to obtain a teaching certificate which was the only approved career path for a woman in the arts at the time. During her schooling, Krasner’s work ranged from realistic self-portraiture to surrealist experimentation. She supported herself by working in a factory, as a waitress, and also as an artist’s model.

She was lucky to get work as an artist in the Works Progress Administration of the Federal Art Project (WPA/FAP). This was a visual arts program within Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal (1933-43). These projects were ground breaking in the U.S. as it was the first time that many women artists received financial support to work. She quickly advanced to a supervisor role as an assistant on large public murals. Jackson Pollack served as one of her assistants during this period.

Krasner felt more at ease in more bohemian art circles during the 1930s and, like many of her peers, was drawn to Marxism. She studied with artist and theorist, Hans Hofmann who introduced her to the work of Picasso and Matisse. At this time, she began to explore an “all-over” style abstracting floral motifs and creating repetitive designs.   Hofmann gave her a the backhanded compliment that her work was so good “you would not know it was made by a woman artist.”

Krasner became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists, a group formed in New York City in 1936 to promote and help the public appreciate abstract art.

In 1942, Krasner met Pollack, she visited his studio before an exhibit that they were part of and she subsequently introduced him to the New York art scene. The pair married in 1945 and she took on the duties of promoting and managing Pollack’s career.

There is so much controversy about Krasner’s life. Did she put her career on hold to support her husband? How much did she influence him?  Was her career sabotaged because of his? I’ve read and listened to some of her interviews about her life as an artist and her life as Jackson Pollack’s wife and I can’t help but conclude that this intelligent and creative woman made choices that felt right to her at the time. She never stopped creating during her 11-year marriage to Pollock. Of course she had to deal with his alcoholism and womanizing but I feel that she truly admired and supported his work as an artist.

They moved from Manhattan to the Springs, Long Island in the late 1940s where they set up Pollack in an old barn. She worked in a room upstairs in their home and created her Little Image series. She painted left to write like Hebrew writing in an attempt to reconnect to her Jewish heritage and her subconscious. She also began to experiment with collage, a technique that one of idols, Matisse used later in his life. In fact, she once tore up a bunch of her paintings because she was frustrated with the work and then later reassembled them producing a large body of work that was well received in a 1955 exhibition.

After Pollack’s death, she lived in the shadow of his almost pop-star fame. Critics were harsh with her new larger scale (because she had moved out to work in the big barn) expressionist works labeling them too reminiscent of Pollack’s or too decorative meaning too feminine.

Her later work was finally recognized in a retrospective in 1983 at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in Texas but because of her poor health she was unable to attend the opening and died before the show reached its final stop at MOMA in New York.

Even though she struggled against the hyper masculine attitudes of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Krasner was a prominent figure within it. Her extensive training in art theory, her skill and versatility drew connections between the early-twentieth-century art and the new ideas of postwar America. She helped devise the “all-over” technique, which influenced Pollack’s drip painting.

Thanks to her generosity, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation has awarded over 46 million dollars in grants to working artists around the world.

Krasner constantly pushed herself and reinvented her style through out her career. She was “rediscovered” by feminist art historians during the 1970s and thankfully lived to see a greater recognition of her art.

“I happened to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock and that’s a mouthful. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent.”

Born: October 27, 1908 – Brooklyn, New York

Died: June 19, 1984 – Queens, New York

 

 

Female artists to be inspired by …

This list is a result of one simple question asked in the Thrive Network –

Who is a female artist you are inspired by?

 

This list is amazing and it keeps growing.  I thought I knew my art history but apparently not.  This list is full of contemporary artists who are working right now and producing work too!  Where possible, I’ve linked to their site and otherwise to a wiki entry so that you can start your own research.

Who is missing?  Let me know who inspires you and I’ll keep this list growing!

p.s. The Thrive Network is based out of  Vancouver, Canada but rapidly expanding – take a look, I’ve been involved since January and can’t recommend it enough!

Thrive:

Our mission is to unite female visual artists!  THRIVE is built on a foundation of community, a passion for learning and a commitment to support rather than compete.

 

Female artists to be inspired by……

 

Vikky Alexander
Jennifer Angus
Gillian Ayres
Susanna Bauer
Marta Becket
Christi Belcourt
Tina Berning

Inese Birstins

Su Blackwell
Louise Bourgeois
Cecily Brown
Lee Bul
Bobbie Burgers
Emily Carr
Julie Chen
Galen Cheney
Judy Chicago
Eileen Cooper
Cori Creed
Niki de Ste Phalle
Marlene Dumas
Tracey Emin
Angela Fox
Helen Frankenthaler
Margaret Glew
Torrie Groening
Guerilla Girls
Ann Hamilton
Erin Hanson
Grace Hartigan

Barbara Hepworth

Jessica Hess

Eva Hesse

Sheila Hicks
Carmel Jenkins
Sophie Jodoin
Chantal Joffe
Frida Kahlo
Ann Kipling
Lisa Kokin
Kathe Kollwitz
Katie Lewis
Clara Lieu
Loish
Michelle Loughrey
Sally Mann
Agnes Martin
Shantal Martin

Margaret Mcdonald Mackintosh

Miss Me (the artful vandal)
Annette Messager
Joan Mitchell
Wangechi Mutu
Joanne Nam
Sheila Norgate
Rebecca Norris Webb
Georgia O’Keeffe
Zoë Pawlak
Rajni Perera
Susan Point
Fiona Rae
Paula Rego
Bridget Riley

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette

Doris Salcedo
Meera Sethi
Laurie Simmons
Taryn Simon
Lorna Simpson
Kirsten Sims
Kiki Smith
Anne J Steves
Kara Walker
Rachel Whiteread
Joyce Wieland
Selena Wong
Beatrice Wood
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

 

 

 

Thrive Talk by Marlene Lowden – My personal artist story

Meet my teachers and hear my very personal story on becoming an artist.

This is an audio recording (with slides) of my talk for Thrive on March 29th, 2017.

Public speaking is pretty scary and sharing your personal story adds another layer of vulnerability. I want to thank the Thrive network for the invitation to speak because I learned so much about myself in the process.  It was an incredibly supportive audience and I recommend that you take a peek at their blog to hear more stories from that night.

I hope that there are bits of what I share that help you reflect on your story and discover the beauty even in the dark and seemingly insignificant parts.

 

 

 

Thrive is a network for female and femme-identified artists based out of Vancouver but has members from around the globe.

 

To stay connected visit me on Instagram – marlenelowden and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

 


 

Unity in Diversity Artist Statement via video!

 

This is my artist’s statement about my new series of oil paintings called the Unity in Diversity series.  Less than a minute and perhaps, my more serious philosophical side.

 

 

If you’d rather read than watch – here’s a slightly longer version:

Unity in Diversity

It comes from the shadow and the light.

It comes through the torment of Orlando, Istanbul and Nice.

It comes from my inner dialogue about gender, race, religion and power.

And out of the magic and memories of our retreat in Spain.
It is from the jaw dropping beauty of the Rocky Mountains and the experience of hiking in alpine flower meadows. And inspired by the music of Peter Gabriel and Sting on stage together.

It even comes from an encounter with a Grizzly bear.

It is from the pure beauty of colour, a celebration of rainbows and the joy of creating from a place within – that I feel so blessed to access.

It is about letting go of the idea that unity is somehow perfect, that it is circular and smooth.

It is about acknowledging the contradictions of your wants, words and actions.

It is rocking a pinstripe suit and a tattoo.

It is about recognizing that conflict and difference need to exist – they are the seeds of innovation and creativity.

And that being Whole doesn’t mean you’ve got it all together.

Unity is messy and dynamic and it is ok if pieces stick out and bits hang out on the edge.

This is the celebration of unity in diversity within our own nature,
in our relationships, in our communities and in our shared humanity.

Namaste,

Marlene

 

A few pieces from the series: