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The Eye Is The First Circle

I first encountered Lee Krasner reading about Jackson Pollock, who thanks to The Stone Roses, was the first artist I’d ever really taken any notice of. It was an even bigger revelation, sitting in Northampton Library one Saturday in 2005, to discover that his wife was also an artist. And that it was her efforts and unwavering support that helped bring his work to wider attention and acclaim. Also, her work is absolutely stunning.

In a career spanning over fifty years, Lee Krasner moved from painting murals for the WPA in the 1930’s, to her Little Images of the late 40’s/early 50’s to a series of enormous, vibrant abstracts in the 1960’s some of which were painted with her left hand (she had fallen and broken her right arm). In many ways, this encapsulates the bold, independent and innovative artist and human being she truly was.

Her singular management of Pollock’s estate after his death in 1956, led to the creation of the Pollock/Krasner Foundation, which works supporting and nurturing artists today and is a fine example of her enduring legacy. Had Lee Krasner been a man, her work would be as familiar to us as Picasso, Pollock, De Kooning, Klimt and Matisse. In 1984, she became one of the few women artists given a career retrospective at MOMA in New York. She acknowledged the accolade saying:: ‘I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter…’

Lee Krasner is my favourite artist. Here is a poem I wrote about her.

The Eye Is The First Circle

i.m. Lee Krasner

I came across a photo of you

the same age as me:

August, nineteen fifty six,

two weeks since your husband

died in a car crash. Prophecy

is by your side. I read

that you wept as you carried

on. Using all of your five two

sweeping and slashing line,

form and colour as only you

can. I wept at Little Images.

Afterall, it was you who said

in painting and life there

is no separation. I understand

now more than ever.

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