new-york

Lee Krasner

Robert Miller Gallery

Lee Krasner’s “Umber Paintings,” 1959–62, are somber and sometimes violently gestural. Since they were painted not long after her husband’s death, they have been viewed, almost exclusively, in terms of “tragedy,” “catastrophe,” and “mourning.” It has even been suggested that their restricted coloring is related to the brownish coat of Jackson Pollock’s dog. I do not think this is a helpful way to look at art. There is nothing elegiac about the “Umber Paintings.” Most of them were painted more than three years after Pollock’s death, and in the interval she produced a number of works so brilliant in color and so full of rhythmic élan as to be positively festive. If we were to follow the crude, biographical approach, logic would demand that we find her guilty of callousness, which would be both ridiculous and impertinent. Rather than speculating about the varieties of anguish that these

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