Jackson Pollock has long been my favorite artist, but it was not until I saw the 2000 film Pollock that I realized his wife, Lee Krasner, was just as accomplished an artist as Pollock. My experience was not that uncommon, unfortunately; as Krasner herself pointed out in a 1973 interview, “I happen to be Mrs. Jackson Pollock, and that’s a mouthful. The only thing I haven’t had against me was being black. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent.”
Born in New York in 1908, Krasner grew up with her Russian immigrant parents and siblings in Brooklyn. She trained at several art schools in New York, and graduated from the National Academy of Design in 1932. Two years later, she was employed by the Public Works of Art Project (one of the New Deal projects), working primarily for the Federal Arts Project until 1943. While Krasner and Pollock’s paths crossed during these years – they were both working for the Federal Arts Project – it was not until both were invited to participate in an exhibit that they began their relationship.