• Dates: September 18, 2020 – January 10, 2021
  • Curators: Eleanor Nairne, Barbican Art Gallery, and Lucía Agirre, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Exhibition organized by: the Barbican Centre of London in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
  • Sponsored by: Seguros Bilbao.
  • Curators: Eleanor Nairne, Barbican Art Gallery, and Lucía Agirre, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Exhibition organized by: the Barbican Centre of London in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is presenting Lee Krasner. Living Color, a retrospective devoted to this New York artist who was a pioneer in Abstract Expressionism. The show brings together a broad range of pieces, some of them never before shown in Europe. In this exhibition, sponsored by Seguros Bilbao, the public will be able to see the incessant reinvention and exploration that characterizes the oeuvre of Lee Krasner (1908–1984) throughout the 50 years of her career: from her earliest self-portraits and life drawings to her exuberant, monumental works from the early 1960’s, along with her Little Images from the late 1940’s and her groundbreaking collages from the 1950’s.

Lee Krasner (b. 1908; d. 1984) was a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, the movement that made New York a thriving center for modern art in the postwar period. Born in Brooklyn, in an Orthodox Jewish, Russian émigré family, she decided to become an artist at 14. She applied to the only school in New York that offered an art course for girls and would later study at the Cooper Union, the National Academy of Design, and the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts.

Krasner was one of the first artists in New York to adopt an entirely abstract approach, and in 1942 she was included in the exhibition French and American Paintings at the McMillen Inc., alongside her friends Willem de Kooning and Stuart Davis. The one fellow exhibitor that she had not met before was Jackson Pollock, so she decided to visit his studio. In 1945 they married and moved to Springs, Long Island.

Unlike many of her contemporaries, Krasner refused to develop a ‘signature image,’ which she considered to be too rigid. Working in cycles, she sought out new means for authentic expression, even during the most tumultuous of times, including Pollock’s sudden death in a car crash in 1956. Krasner’s formidable spirit is felt throughout the body of work that she created over more than fifty years in the studio.

Colour por Color, which is the first exhibition of her work in Spain, brings together exceptional works from across her entire career: from her early self-portraits and life drawings to her collage designs for the War Services Project; to the vibrant Little image paintings of the late 1940s; to the bold collages presented at the Stable Gallery in 1955. In the summer of 1956, Krasner made a painting dominated by looping, fleshy forms, lined with black and with accents of pink that emphasize the bodily imagery, Prophecy . The same summer she found herself a widow, but she returned to her painting, making three works that continued the Prophecy series. The year after she began her Night Journeys, works of an unprecedented scale, with a restricted palette of white and umber. In the early 1960s, Krasner allowed colour to burst back into her painting and created airy and exuberant monumental works and striking collages made from shards of previous paintings.

Spanning a career of fifty years, Krasner’s oeuvre was characterized by constant reinvention and unceasing exploration. She died in June 1984.