1 Minute 1 Work: Abstract No. 2

Eleanor Nairne

Abstract No. 2, 1947, is a deceptively intricate painting from Lee Krasner’s ‘Little Image’ series. In this HENI Talk, Barbican Curator Eleanor Nairne unpacks the ‘rhythms’ of this small but lively painting.

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These are really jewel-like things to look at.

She’s often making them with the canvas placed directly on a table working in oil predominantly, a little bit of enamel, thinning down the paint with turpentine, creating these pulsing ‘Little Images’.

Abstract No. 2 is my favourite within this series. At first we’re struck by the darkness, by the depth of the black. Then the eye understands that there’s blue beneath. It has this very fine tracery with accents of red and yellow. It has a rhythm to it in terms of the build-up of mark making.

Krasner was very interested in jazz, and in bebop and boogie woogie, and we know that she went to the Café Society Uptown, and she’d go dancing with Mondrian. She’d sometimes speak about this in relation to her work. In Abstract No. 2, you really feel the mark making being like aleatory notes.

With thanks to

Barbican Centre
The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York


Filmed on the occasion of Lee Krasner: Living Colour
Barbican Art Gallery, 30 May – 1 September 2019



Getty Images



Audio Network



Abstract No. 2 (detail)
Lee Krasner, 1947
IVAM Centre, Spain
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Stop and Go

Lee Krasner, 1949-1950

Private Collection

© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Shattered Colour

Lee Krasner, 1947

Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York

© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Lee Krasner, 1949
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Gift of the Aaron E. Norman Fund Inc., 1959, 1959-31-1
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Untitled (Little Image)

Lee Krasner, 1950

Collection of halley k harrisburg and Michael Rosenfield, New York

© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Lee Krasner1946
Collection of Bobbi and Walter Zifkin
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Lee Krasner1947
Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, New York
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Lee Krasner1948-1949
Private collection
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Black and White Squares, No. 1 
Lee Krasner1948
Private collection
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Squeezing Black Oil Paint from a Tube on to an Art Palette

Hoptocopter / Getty Images


Adding Black

www.filmsbyben.com / Getty Images


Paint can

South_agency / Getty Images


1966 Jazz musicians in Times Square club

Anthony Garetti / Getty Images


Art Tatum playing piano, 1943
The March of Time / Getty Images


Crowds waiting outside of the Café Society Uptown

Sam Shere / Getty Images


A crowd of people is held back on the sidewalk under an awning in front of the Cafe Society Uptown nightclub

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) / International Center of Photography


People dance to rock and roll music in a dance hall

BBC Motion Gallery Editorial / Getty Images


The Harlem Hep Cats dance the jive and the jitterbug at the Harvest Moon Ball at Madison Square Garden, 1941
BBC Editorial / Getty Images


Jazz musicians playing, 1946
The March of Time / Getty Images

Lee Krasner: Living Colour’, Barbican Art Gallery, 30 May – 1 September 2019

Robert G. Edelman, ‘Krasner’s “Little Image” paintings’, Artnet

Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1949’, MoMA

Molly Tresadern, ‘The Women Artists Obscured by their Husbands’, Art UK, 14 November 2017

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