Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Inspirations, Part 1: Lee Krasner

This post is the first entry in an ongoing series I will be adding to the blog, on artists who have influenced my work.

Recently I have felt a renewed interest in a series I started in 2008 and had let go of for a while, my "Mosaic" series. It involves piecing together an image from torn sections of paintings made earlier on paper. Often the paper that serves as the raw material is a work that didn't seem "finished" on its own, but still offered too much potential to quite give up on. It finds an exciting new identity when mixed with other discarded works. There is a reference to the concept of resurrection in working this way, in taking some experience from the past (that is, the creation of the original paintings) and giving new life by altering their shape and size (through tearing) and placing them in new circumstances.

"Rust Mosaic" by Catherine Carter, acrylic on paper on canvas, 30 inches square, 2014
In creating these works, I am connecting to the practice and intentions of the artist Lee Krasner (1909-1984), whose work (and devotion to that work) has inspired me since I first read her interview in "Originals: American Women Artists" by Eleanor Munro. I read and re-read that book, which I first encountered when I was working in the book store at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the mid-1980s. I hadn't made the commitment to being a professional artist at that time, but I remember sensing an affinity of spirit to each woman whose story appeared inside. Krasner's bold abstract work stood out to me in particular among the others.

I was most intrigued by her "Little Image Paintings" series, made up of small sections of repeating shapes that build into a solid repeating pattern greater than the sum of its parts.

"Composition" by Lee Krasner, oil on composition board, 48" H x 37" W, 1949
I also appreciate her collaged paintings, pieced together from earlier canvases. There is something in that process of honoring the past, by starting with old works and pushing them forward into something new, that signifies development and hope, both in the artistic process and in life itself.

"Black, White and Pink Collage" by Lee Krasner, ink and collage on paper, 23" H x 29" W, 1958-74
Both of these approaches by Krasner, which I first encountered long before I began painting seriously, must have stayed in my head, because I find myself referring to them now as an artist myself.

By the way, I must recommend this video (below) of an interview with Krasner from 1978 from a series Barbaralee Diamondstein made called "Inside New York's Art World." When I consider the evil monster she was presented as in the poorly researched biography of her husband, "Jackson Pollock: An American Saga" by Steven W. Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, and the cartoon character she was presented as in Ed Harris' movie "Pollock," it is so heartening to see her in this interview with Diamondstein. She comes across as warm, passionate, and generous, which she had to have been to make those inspiring paintings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Big fan of Krasner and Diamonsteen. Thanks for posting this.