Living Colour

I have never known much about abstract expressionism but when I started learning about Jackson Pollock l started to admire this connection between colour and emotion. Then I saw Lee Krasner's exhibition in the Barbican, Jackson Pollock's wife. This exhibition was the first time since the 1960s that her work has been exhibited in Europe and I can honestly say that I am so happy that I have experienced her works. There was an evident journey being shown throughout the exhibition. The curation of this exhibit was highly focused on chronology and style which may sound simple but it was extremely effective. I was able to see this evolution of her style and the individualisation of her work within this timeline of events. One could say that there were some obvious influences from Jackson Pollock but my friend pointed out the heavy use of blue and connected it to Matisse, who she had worked and been influenced by throughout her career.

For those of you who are unaware by the term abstract expressionism, the Tate describes it as being focused on abstract art whilst trying to convey something expressive. It is 'characterised by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity' ( It was a movement which started in New York and was inspired by the surrealists, Salvador Dali, and the automatism of Joan Miro. It is something which at first glance you could say,' what is that?' but isn't meant to take humanised form. Abstract expressionism is developed more through feelings than form, hence its name.

Lee Krasner is an artist that has been looked past over many years due to the fame of her husband, Jackson Pollock, but this exhibition, for me, has completely spotlighted her work. There was this evident idea of appreciation of colour which I love! She did have classical artistic training but even in her portraits is there obvious hints of abstraction and a 'caricature-Esque' ideas. She is experimenting with this emotional aspect of art.

There was a piece which I have found the most memorable. 'Stop and Go'. It was a painting which was circular and was outlined with a thick black line. Inside this painted were forms and shapes each outlined with black and had little specs of colour blasting out of each shape. It was this visual impact of the idea of having to stop which came through from the encasement of the black lines contrasted with the movement and colour in each shape.

When curating an exhibition it is so important to have some kind of timeline of an idea which comes through from the layout of the artist's works. In Lee Krasner's exhibition, I was particularly interested in how this had been executed. There was a story underneath this placement of her works. The upper floor seemed to be more experimented and a struggle towards her style, a sense of trial and error and influence seemed to come across, whereas when you went downstairs there seemed to be this explosion which went alongside the name of the exhibition,'Living Colour'. The was the vividness and life which started to flow through her works. Self-discovery, I would say. But when looking at paintings by an abstract expressionist you must dissocaite the idea that you have to find something which you can identify... that is not what is important. It's how the artist is feeling. How do the colours and lines make you feel? Yes, that may be hard as we are taught that when something is unrecognisable it is unnerving. But that is why this movement is so revolutionary and innovative. Don't understand just look!

Stop and Go by Lee Krasner

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