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Item of the Week: Krasner, Motherwell, de Kooning at Guild Hall, 1952

Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:07

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

In this image, the artists Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), and Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) stand in front of one of de Kooning’s paintings at the Fourth Annual Invitational Exhibition at Guild Hall.

These three artists pioneered Abstract Expressionism and resided in Springs in the mid-20th century, finding inspiration for their work in the quiet, natural beauty of the East End.

De Kooning, shown on the right, was a Dutch American who made his name as an artist working in New York during the 1940s. He moved to Springs in 1963, setting up a studio and home on Woodbine Drive, just east of Three Mile Harbor. Despite his acclaim, de Kooning earned second place at the exhibition where this picture was taken, coming in behind Joe Glasco (1925-1996).

Motherwell, pictured in the center, lived in East Hampton from 1944 to 1952, and has been quoted as saying that he produced his best works during this time. Among the art Motherwell created while living in his modified Quonset Hut in Springs are his famous Elegies to the Spanish Republic.

Krasner, shown on the left, and her husband, Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), played a pivotal role in developing the artist colony that grew in Springs. While her husband may be better known today, Krasner was just as prolific and influential as her spouse. Her drawings and paintings ranged from small to large scale. She included abstract and untranslatable characters in many of her works that were inspired by the Hebrew she learned as a child.

Those who wish to learn more about Lee Krasner and her work can visit her home in Springs. Free passes for the Pollock-Krasner House, Guild Hall, the Parrish Art Museum, LongHouse Reserve, the Montauk Lighthouse, and other local museums are available through the East Hampton Library’s website.

Moriah Moore is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

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