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LEE KRASNER THE SOLSTICE SERIES 1979-1981


KRASNER’S SOLSTICE SERIES encompasses a group of twenty-one late collaged works. With the Solstice Series, which incorporate and re-contextualize fragments of earlier series, Krasner continued to push the boundaries of her practice; demonstrating her discipline as an artist as well as an acute understanding of language as an integral element of the self. Krasner divulged to her friend John Bernard Myers that when she created the Solstice Series, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was running through her head—prompting her to consider the changing, cyclical nature of the seasons as well as her own oeuvre. According to Krasner, “the year is divided into cycles, four seasons, and the cycles recur over and over—endlessly. Yet the weather, even the climate, is never exactly the same. As an artist I realize I, too, am always the same, and yet I am always different. I change, my work changes—but both remain within cycles that are peculiar to me... I thought of what I was doing, making something new out of the old, as a parallel corresponding to renewal in nature, a reflection of it” (L. Krasner, quoted in E. G. Landau, Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1995, p. 287). After Myers encouraged her to consult the Oxford English Dictionary, Krasner discovered “solstice” is defined as “a turning point, a culmination; it indicates points. It is the furthest limit, a crisis. It marks an interval of time between appearances.” This series of works was first shown in a solo exhibition entitled Lee Krasner/Solstice at Pace Gallery in New York in the spring of 1981. Works from the Solstice Series are represented in major public collections worldwide, such as the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and Deutsche Bank in New York, and have been exhibited at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Houston Museum of Fine Art; Phoenix Art Museum; and Seattle Art Museum.

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From

EPILOGUE: THE ARTIST AS CRITIC by Barbara Rose Originally published in the catalogue Lee Krasner, which accompanied the 1983 retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York

summer. In the summer of 1978, I go to Springs to see her. She invites me to observe the yearly housecleaning process that takes places at the end of the summer, when she is ready to pack up after Labor Day and return to the city. She pulls the canvases out of the racks in the studio by herself, refusing to let me help unless a very large picture needs moving. She must do it all herself, which accounts for why she has no servants or assistants.

…one of the oddities of her conversation is that she appears not to distinguish between past, present, and future. She still relates incidents that occurred even fifty years ago in the present tense. At first, this is jarring. Then one realizes the nature of her experience is that everything, including all world art she has seen, co-exists in the present. Sometimes, she may focus on one or another aspect of her past experience, but it is all available to her in a synchronic rather than a sequential sense. The peculiarity is reflected in her art. Thus, it seems appropriate to conclude this study of Krasner’s career, as she would, in the present tense:

As she struggles to pull out pictures, she tells me of Clement Greenberg’s visit to her studio in 1959. He had just been made director of French & Company and offered her a show. However, her work had changed, and he does not like the paintings he sees. “We had words,” she says, “and he exited.” I imagine the words and the exit. I also realize it was her last chance to become part of the official avant-garde and that she deliberately refuses to conform. She will get where she is going on her own way, in her own good time. Nobody rushes Lee Krasner. As for criticism, it can be argued that hers

For years, I am puzzled by the disjunction between the quality I perceive in Krasner’s art whenever I encounter it and the fact that her work is not seen as first generation Abstraction Expressionism, is not judged on its merit, indeed, is virtually ignored. I am introduced to Krasner by John Bernard Myers, and I begin to visit her studios in Manhattan in the winter and Springs in the

Lee Krasner, 1982. Photo: Ann Chwatsky. 7


opposite: detail from Untitled (Study For Jonas Gourd) 20


opposite: detail from Untitled (Study For Jonas Gourd) 20


CELESTIAL EQUATOR

1980 oil and paper collage on lithograph 23 3/4 x 30 inches, 60.3 x 76.2 cm PROVENANCE

Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York EXHIBITIONS

New York, Pace Gallery, Lee Krasner/Solstice, March 20 – April 18 1981. New York, Brooke Alexander Gallery, Art for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze, December 1983. New York, Brooklyn Museum, Lee Krasner: Works on Paper, December 20 1984 – February 25 1985. LITERATURE

B. Novak, Lee Krasner/Solstice, exh. cat., New York, Pace Gallery, 1981 (illustrated). Art for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze, exh. cat., New York, Brooke Alexander Gallery, December 1983, no. 11 (illustrated) J.B. Myers, “Naming Pictures: Conversations Between Lee Krasner and John Bernard Myers,” Artforum, November 1984, p. 69 (illustrated). E.G. Landau, Lee Krasner: Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1995, p. 289, cat. no. 581 (illustrated in color).

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CELESTIAL EQUATOR

1980 oil and paper collage on lithograph 23 3/4 x 30 inches, 60.3 x 76.2 cm PROVENANCE

Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York EXHIBITIONS

New York, Pace Gallery, Lee Krasner/Solstice, March 20 – April 18 1981. New York, Brooke Alexander Gallery, Art for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze, December 1983. New York, Brooklyn Museum, Lee Krasner: Works on Paper, December 20 1984 – February 25 1985. LITERATURE

B. Novak, Lee Krasner/Solstice, exh. cat., New York, Pace Gallery, 1981 (illustrated). Art for a Nuclear Weapons Freeze, exh. cat., New York, Brooke Alexander Gallery, December 1983, no. 11 (illustrated) J.B. Myers, “Naming Pictures: Conversations Between Lee Krasner and John Bernard Myers,” Artforum, November 1984, p. 69 (illustrated). E.G. Landau, Lee Krasner: Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1995, p. 289, cat. no. 581 (illustrated in color).

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IN THE FARTHEST POINT, Krasner combined fragments of The Megaphones (CR 536), a 1970 lithograph from the Peace Portfolio, with an excised section of an umber and white canvas from the early sixties. The Farthest Point has striking affinities to Triple Goddess, 1961 (CR 344), in its verticality and sinuous composition, which is delineated by similar angular and curved configurations that twist up and down the canvas.

UNTITLED

(from Peace Portfolio: “The Megaphones�) 1970 lithograph 21 x 26 inches, 53.3 x 66 cm

opposite: detail from The Farthest Point

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IN THE FARTHEST POINT, Krasner combined fragments of The Megaphones (CR 536), a 1970 lithograph from the Peace Portfolio, with an excised section of an umber and white canvas from the early sixties. The Farthest Point has striking affinities to Triple Goddess, 1961 (CR 344), in its verticality and sinuous composition, which is delineated by similar angular and curved configurations that twist up and down the canvas.

UNTITLED

(from Peace Portfolio: “The Megaphones�) 1970 lithograph 21 x 26 inches, 53.3 x 66 cm

opposite: detail from The Farthest Point

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Lee Krasner Series Preview