Plants and Animals

If some readers are not convinced by my description, in the previous post, of Krasner’s work as ruled by a plant metaphor, I submit these two works, which have titles and colours to match that theme. But it’s interesting that for Krasner the earth mother Gaea is not so green. She’s a lot more of a sexual being than a passive plant.

Lee Krasner, Gaea 1966

But that’s how she should be. Krasner’s typical globes, eggs, faces, genitals (of both sexes), lips, eyes—all curving and rounded shapes—give Gaea an identity as the generator of life, and of forms. At the right hand side I see an allusion to a figure from Cézanne’s large bathers in London’s National Gallery, placed in the same position in that picture.

Paul Cézanne, Large Bathers c. 1900

Krasner has given her a de Kooning like mouth—it looks pasted on. But the connection with the great theme of bathers in a landscape, or water nymphs, is really interesting.

Lee Krasner, Portrait in Green 1966

Her work grows as the gestures move, and as it grows it generates the mythological content—which is not really myth but more like the depths of reality, the truth that myth depicts. As for all true animists, her plants are not just alive, but alive as beings we can interact with. She’s a figure painter whose figures have no boundaries.

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