Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Night Creatures

Artist:
Lee Krasner (American, Brooklyn, New York 1908–1984 New York)
Date:
1965
Medium:
Acrylic on paper
Dimensions:
30 x 42 1/2 in. (76.2 x 108 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Gift of Robert and Sarah W. Miller, in honor of Lee Krasner, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.595
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
Born in Brooklyn, Lee Krasner declared her intention to be an artist as a child. She began studying at Cooper Union in 1926, and continued her work at the National Academy of Design in 1929. In 1937, she entered the studio of the painter Hans Hofmann, who encouraged her focus on color and lyrical abstraction. While Krasner's work always retained the influence of her early interest in Realism and Surrealism, abstraction became her dominant mode of expression from this point on. During the 1940s, Krasner was among the group of first-generation Abstract Expressionists working in New York, although her considerable achievements at that time were often eclipsed by those of her famous husband, Jackson Pollock. Throughout the next two decades, Krasner created intensely wrought paintings and collages characterized by gestural brushwork, rich surface texture, and allover rhythmic movement.


Executed on paper, "Night Creatures" delivers an even greater emotional impact than her larger oils on canvas of the same period. One imagines that hidden within the thicket of Krasner's swirling black-and-white paint strokes are menacing eyes, heads, and even entire figures surrounded by dense foliage. Such suggested images are common in her later abstract work and grow out of her earlier, more representational figure studies and still-life compositions. What distinguishes this particular drawing—and others like it from the mid-1960s—are the raw intensity and primal power engendered from the figurative images and the artist's forceful yet controlled handling of the medium. The picture's haunting, somber color scheme, which includes black, white, and a touch of rust, along with its title allies this work with a series made from 1959 to 1963, which were painted at night and thus called Night Journeys.


Krasner's later work, from the 1970s and 1980s, reflected a new direction toward colorful compositions with large, flat, "cut-out" shapes and very little surface texture.

Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Lee Krasner '65
the artist, New York (from 1965; her gift to Miller); Robert and Sarah W. Miller, New York (by 1975–95; their gift to MMA)

Detroit. Franklin Siden Gallery. "Lee Krasner: Gouaches and Drawings," November 8–27, 1965, no. 12 (as "Night Creatures").

Detroit. Franklin Siden Gallery. "Lee Krasner, Gouaches and Drawings," November 8–27, 1965, no. 12.

Washington, D. C. Corcoran Gallery of Art. "Lee Krasner: Collages and Works on Paper, 1933–1974," January 11–February 16, 1975, no. 72 (as "Untitled," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Peter Miller, New York).

State College. Pennsylvania State University, Museum of Art. "Lee Krasner: Collages and Works on Paper, 1933–1974," March 23–April 27, 1975, no. 72.

Waltham, Mass. Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. "Lee Krasner: Collages and Works on Paper, 1933–1974," September 17–October 26, 1975, no. 72.

New York. Art Students League. "Women in the Making of Art History," February 23–March 6, 1982, no catalogue.

Brooklyn Museum. "Lee Krasner: Works on Paper," December 20, 1984–February 25, 1985, no catalogue.

New York. Robert Miller Gallery. "Lee Krasner: Paintings from 1965 to 1970," January 4–26, 1991, unnumbered cat. (as "Untitled").

Madrid. Fundación Juan March. "Expresionismo Abstracto: Obra Sobre Papel, Colección The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," May 9–July 2, 2000, no. 29.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionist Drawings," November 1, 2007–February 24, 2008, no catalogue.

Ellen G. Landau. Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1995, pp. 220–21, no. 414, ill.

Lisa M. Messinger in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1995–1996." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 54 (Autumn 1996), p. 62, ill. (color).

Lisa M. Messinger. Expresionismo Abstracto: Obra Sobre Papel, Colección The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York. Exh. cat., Fundación Juan March. Madrid, 2000, pp. 72–74, no. 29, ill. (color).

Gail Levin. Lee Krasner: A Biography. New York, 2011, p. 369.



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