November 21, 2014 - The Jewish Museum - From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
November 21, 2014

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

Left: Lee Krasner with Stop and Go (detail), c. 1949. © 2014 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York. Right: Norman Lewis (detail), n. d. Art © The Estate of Norman W. Lewis. Courtesy of Iandor Fine Arts, New Jersey.

From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
On view through February 1, 2015

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Hours: Saturday–Tuesday 11am–5:45pm (shops closed Saturday), Wednesday closed (shops open 11am–3pm),
Thursday 11am–8pm, Friday 11am–4pm

T +1 212 423 3200
F +1 212 423 3232

“…a nuanced, sensitive and profound exhibition”
The New York Times

A revealing parallel view of two key Abstract Expressionists, From the Margins brings together two New York painters whose works offer unique and compelling approaches to abstraction. Born one year apart, Lee Krasner (1908–84) and Norman Lewis (1909–79) shared similar family situations and came of age in the economic, social, and historic complexities of the 1930s. They formed their creative identities in the artistic and cultural ferment of New York City that was to catapult it to the center of the art world after World War II.

Lee Krasner was born in Brooklyn to a Russian Jewish immigrant family. She studied at the Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design. From 1934 through 1943 she supervised a section of the mural division of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration. Krasner married the painter Jackson Pollock in 1945.

Norman Lewis’s parents were immigrants from Bermuda. His family lived on Lenox Avenue in Harlem. He studied drawing and commercial design in high school before joining the merchant marine and sailing throughout the Caribbean and South America. In the early 1930s Lewis worked with Augusta Savage, the founder and director of the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem. Like Krasner, he was a beneficiary of the public-works programs of the Depression years, teaching art under the auspices of the Federal Art Project.

Krasner and Lewis reached their mature styles during the 1940s and 1950s. Their works of these years suggest intriguing parallels. Both painters developed many of the signature elements of Abstract Expressionism—a rejection of realist representation; a decentered, all-over approach to the picture plane; spontaneous, gestural brushwork; and a free use of non-naturalistic color. Both reveled in the sensual pleasures of design. A key aspect of their experimental method was the use of line—loose and organic or formal and gridlike. Both artists also drew upon sources with personal meanings: ancient and nonwestern art, contemporary music, forms of writing, references to urban life. The parallel viewing of two innovative mid-century painters offers insights into both their artistic achievements and this transformative era in America.
Related public programs

A Closer Look gallery talks: From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
November 24, January 12 & 26, 1pm
Weekly in-depth explorations of select works of art

Free with Museum admission

Studio workshop: Abstraction for Adults
Sunday, January 11, 1:30–5:30pm
Journey from figuration to abstraction through a sequence of drawing, collage, stenciling, and painting in this afternoon studio workshop taught by contemporary artist Yevgeniya Baras. Following a guided tour and discussion of the exhibition From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952, discover your own method of abstraction to create a painting inspired by the innovative techniques in the work of Krasner and Lewis.

All materials are included in the course fee; space is limited and registration is required.

Writers and artists respond: Dona Nelson and Louise Fishman
Thursday, January 15, 6:30pm
Artists Dona Nelson and Louise Fishman, who belong to and elaborate on the tradition of American abstraction present in From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952, lead a gallery walkthrough of the exhibition. Both painters share an interest in color, gesture, and material exploration and each had work featured in the most recent Whitney Biennial.

Free with pay-what-you-wish admission; RSVP recommended

From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952 was organized by Norman Kleeblatt, Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator, and Dr. Stephen Brown, Assistant Curator.  The exhibition is made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Exhibition Fund, the Boris Lurie Art Foundation, The Rosenblatt Charitable Trust, Roy Zuckerberg, and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Endowment support is provided by The Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions.

Public programs are made possible by endowment support from the William Petschek Family, the Trustees of the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation, William Halo, Benjamin Zucker, the Marshall M. Weinberg Fund, with additional support from Marshall M. Weinberg, the Rita J. and Stanley H. Kaplan Foundation, the Saul and Harriet M. Rothkopf Family Foundation and Ellen Liman.

Public program support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Jewish Museum
Share - From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945–1952
  • Share