1 Minute 1 Work: Palingenesis, 1971

Eleanor Nairne

After years of experimenting with biomorphic forms and more gestural abstract expressionism, something different emerged for Lee Krasner. Hard-edged forms and hot colours typify her canvas Palingenesis (1971), the title aptly coming from the Greek for ‘rebirth’. But what stimulated the change in style for Krasner? Curator Eleanor Nairne tells us more about this spectacular canvas.

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Palingenesis (1971) comes from the Greek meaning ‘rebirth’. We see Krasner working in this very cyclical energy; she’s always thinking about how to reinvent and be reborn in a new form.

It was an interesting move for her. Clement Greenberg, with whom she’d quite a tumultuous relationship – early on he’d been very positive about her work, but with the Umber series they had an enormous falling out. He was scheduled to have given her a solo exhibition and he cancelled the show. It hit Krasner very hard. Greenberg had been in favour of expressionism but he switched allegiance to what he called ‘post-painterly abstraction’. He’d organised a major touring group show which had artists like Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. Crucially, they worked in acrylic, that gave a very different quality their painting. In Palingenesis, Krasner is playing with those ‘hard edged’ forms, but she’s working in oil. That gave a kind of sensuousness, it has a kind of stateliness. She’s working in a historic vein.

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




Lee Krasner, 1971
Pollock-Krasner Foundation
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation

Abstract expressionist painter Lee Krasner at work
Ernst Haas / Getty Images


Lee Krasner, Journal of Art, 1983

Bette Marshall / Getty Images


Art critic Clement Greenberg, smoking cigarette

Leonard McCombe / The LIFE Images Collection /Getty Images


Assault on the Solar Plexus (Detail)

Lee Krasner, 1961

Oil on cotton duck, 205.7 x 147.3 cm

Suzanne Deal Booth

© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Polar Stampede (detail)
Lee Krasner, 1960
The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
© The Pollock-Krasner Foundation


Lee Krasner, Springs, NY
Photograph by Irving Penn, 1972
© The Irving Penn Foundation


American artist Barnett Newman (1905 – 1970) (left) and art critic Clement Greenberg (1909 – 1994) (right) sit with an unidentified third man (back to camera) at a table in the Cedar Tavern, New York, New York, September 15, 1959
Fred W. McDarrah / Getty Images


Frank Stella poses for a portrait on November 15, 1967 in his studio in New York City
David Gahr / Getty Images


Portrait of American artist Kenneth Noland as he sits on a chair in his studio surrounded by his geometric paintings, 1960s
Fred W. McDarrah / Getty Images


A person walks past Frank Stella’s “Gray Scramble” during a press preview at Christie’s New York November 5, 2018 before their Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale that will take place on November 15, 2018
TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / Getty Images


Blue Acrylic paint with brush strokes
matrixnis / Getty Images


Red Acrylic paint with brush strokes
matrixnis / Getty Images



Audio Network

Palingenesis’, Google Arts & Culture

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

Molly Tresadern, ‘The Women artists obscured by their husbands’, Art UK, 14 November 2017

Hard-edge painting’, Art term, Tate

Alex J. Taylor, ‘Greenberg’s Taste’, in Alex J. Taylor (ed.), In Focus: Gift 1961–2 by Kenneth Noland, Tate Research Publication, 2017

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