Jewish Museum Show Spotlights 2 Abstract Expressionist Masters Who Were Left Out of Spotlight (Maybe Because They Were Black and Female?)

She was born in 1908 to Russian parents was raised in Brooklyn.

He was born in 1909 to immigrants from Bermuda, and grew up in Harlem.

Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis both studied art in New York, explored Social Realism in their work with the Federal Art Project, and refined their personal abstract language in the ’40s and ’50s. They both developed signature styles that summon classic elements of Abstract Expressionism, playing with gesture and color and line that almost resolves into writing. And both had shows in prestigious New York galleries.

But the two artists, the black man and the Jewish woman best known as Jackson Pollock’s wife, shared another quality: few people wrote about their work.

“A noticeable lack of critical reception” is how Norman Kleeblatt, chief curator at the Jewish Museum, puts it in the catalogue for “From the Margins,” an exhibition featuring paintings the two artists made between 1945 and ‘52.

The show, opening September 12, creates a suggestive painterly conversation, at times articulated in the rhythms of early Modernism, Hebrew and bebop.

And it reminds us that the story of Abstract Expressionism is still being written. 

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