"From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952"

Art, Painting
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
 (Saint Louis Art Museum)
1/27
Saint Louis Art MuseumNorman Lewis, Twilight Sounds, 1947
 (Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery)
2/27
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld GalleryNorman Lewis, Magenta Haze, 1947
 (The Museum of Modern Art)
3/27
The Museum of Modern ArtNorman Lewis, Phantasy II, September 23, 1946
 (The Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
4/27
The Pamela Joyner and Alfred Giuffrida Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis, Untitled, 1949
 (Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery)
5/27
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld GalleryNorman Lewis, Crossing, 1948
 (Elisha Hawkins Collection of African and African American Art Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
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Elisha Hawkins Collection of African and African American Art Art © The Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis, Florence, 1947
 (Courtesy Rodney M. Miller Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
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Courtesy Rodney M. Miller Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis, Jazz Band, 1948
 (Museum of Fine Arts)
8/27
Museum of Fine ArtsNorman Lewis, Every Atom Glows: Electrons in Luminous Vibration, 1951
 (Private Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
9/27
Private Collection Art © The Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis, Untitled (Vertical Abstraction), c. 1952
 (Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery)
10/27
Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld GalleryNorman Lewis, Untitled, 1946
 (Collection of the Art Fund)
11/27
Collection of the Art FundNorman Lewis, Alabama II, 1969
 (Courtesy of the Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
12/27
Courtesy of the Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis, Self-Portrait, 1939
 (Collection of Kenkeleba House. Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis)
13/27
Collection of Kenkeleba House. Art © The Estate of Norman W. LewisNorman Lewis
 (The Jewish Museum)
14/27
The Jewish MuseumLee Krasner, Untitled, 1948
 (Private Collection)
15/27
Private CollectionLee Krasner, Stop and Go (formerly Yes and No), 1949
 (Roy J. Zuckerberg © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
16/27
Roy J. Zuckerberg © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner, Noon, 1947
 (Courtesy The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Robert Miller Gallery)
17/27
Courtesy The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Robert Miller GalleryLee Krasner, Untitled, 1950
 (Private Collection © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
18/27
Private Collection © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner, Image Surfacing, c. 1945
 (Nancy Margolis King © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
19/27
Nancy Margolis King © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1949
 (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
20/27
Philadelphia Museum of ArtLee Krasner, Composition, 1949
 (Museum of Modern Art)
21/27
Museum of Modern ArtLee Krasner, Untitled, 1949
 (Courtesy The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Robert Miller Gallery)
22/27
Courtesy The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and Robert Miller GalleryLee Krasner, Lava, c. 1950
 (Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
23/27
Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1948
 (Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
24/27
Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfeld © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner, Untitled (Little Image), 1950
 (Robert Miller Gallery)
25/27
Robert Miller GalleryLee Krasner, Kufic, 1965
 (The Jewish Museum)
26/27
The Jewish MuseumLee Krasner, Self-Portrait, c. 1930
 (© 2014 The Pollock- Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS))
27/27
© 2014 The Pollock- Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS)Lee Krasner with Stop and Go, c. 1949

The default assumption about Abstract Expressionism is that it was overwhelmingly white, straight and male. The Jewish Museum sets out to complicate that picture by revisiting the careers of Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, artists who were female and African-American, respectively. The show is worth a visit even if its premise is bogged down by identity politics’ propensity to reduce individuals to categories—here, gender and race.

Society does much the same thing, though an exhibition title like “From the Margins” buys into these cultural prejudices more than it explodes them. AbEx was a broader and more diverse phenomenon than we allow but not because of what the people involved happened to be but rather because of who they were—in this instance, artists rooted in European modernism, trying to find their way within a postwar order that had fallen into America’s lap.

Their styles are well matched, with compositions both dense and finely rendered. There’s no attacking the canvas, à la Pollock and De Kooning, no swallowing the viewer in overweening gestalt à la Rothko and Newman. Yet Krasner’s and Lewis’s efforts were just as vital, and the opportunity to see their work provides a necessary correction to the standard historical narrative.

Pollock’s wife, Krasner, was interested in the power of language. While a few of her works resemble Pollock’s drips in miniature, her paintings are mostly patterned with glyphs that, however indecipherable, boil written meaning down to an abstract presence.

Lewis, meanwhile, shared Pollock’s initial interest in Picasso. His paintings essentially transform Cubist still life into all-over compositions. Cerebral and self-contained, these works seem less concerned with making grand statements than in articulating a personal vision.

In the end, shows like this one are welcome. But Krasner and Lewis can stand on their own without the ideological framework.—Howard Halle

 

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Event phone: 212-423-3200
Event website: http://thejewishmuseum.or

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