Portrait in Green by Lee Krasner

With its swirling green hues dancing across the canvas, take a closer look at Lee Krasner's 'Portrait in Green' from 1969.

By Barbican Centre

Lee Krasner in her studio in the barn, Springs, 1962 © 1991 Hans Namuth Estate, Hans Namuth, Lee Krasner, 1962/1962, From the collection of: Barbican Centre
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Who was Lee Krasner?

Lee Krasner (1908–1984) was a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism and a key figure in American art. Her energetic work reflected the spirit of possibility in post-war New York though her importance has too often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock.

Portrait in Green (1969) by Lee KrasnerBarbican Centre

In the early 1960s Lee Krasner began working on what she called her ‘Primary Series’.

This body of work included more than sixty paintings whose exuberant colour marked a dramatic break with her earlier series of works which were made predominantly with raw and burnt umber pigment.

These paintings included boisterous colours such as alizarin crimson, fuschia pink and hot orange further cementing Krasner’s reputation as a ‘good noisy colourist’, as one critic had referred to her.

These highly keyed colours of Krasner’s ‘Primary Series’ are unmistakable in her work Portrait in Green, with its swirling green hues dancing across the canvas and accentuated with white.

'Portrait in Green' was immortalised in a famous series of photographs taken by Mark Patiky, showing Krasner making this work in her studio. The first person Krasner had allowed to photograph her whilst working, Patiky’s images show 'Portrait in Green' tacked to her studio wall before it’s completion.

Fond of painting ‘within the limits of her body’, these photographs show Krasner running at the wall paintbrush in hand, in a whirlwind of gestures, underlining the loose looping shapes featured in this painting

Painting Portrait in Green in her studio, Springs, 1969 (1969/1969) by Lee KrasnerBarbican Centre

Mark Patiky's photograph of Lee Krasner creating 'Portrait in Green', the first time she had allowed anyone to document her painting.

Credits: Story

Written by Charlotte Flint, Exhibition Assistant for Lee Krasner: Living Colour.

Lee Krasner: Living Colour took place at the Barbican Art Gallery in London from 30 May—1 September 2019.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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