365 Days of Art: April 11 – Lee Krasner Gives Interview, Recalls Mondrian

Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1948

April 11, 1968

Lee Krasner gives an oral history interview with Dorothy Seckler and remembers a time when Piet Mondrian gave her a mini-critique. An excerpt of the interview:

LEE KRASNER: Now I’ll tell you something Mondrian said to me about my painting which does interest me enormously. This was at the time that I was a member of the American Abstract Artists. And this particular year both Leger and Mondrian partook in the exhibition. And I had the pleasure of walking around the gallery which Mondrian. Each artist had two or three canvases up. And Mondrian would ask, “Who did that?” And I gave the name, and he commented on each one. Well, then, pretty soon we were in front of mine and he said, “Who did that?” and I nervously said, “I did.” And he said, “You have a very strong inner rhythm. You must always hold that.” Now that makes sense to me rather than the male or female bit in relation to the painting.

DOROTHY SECKLER: That was a very, very profound comment.

LEE KRASNER: Oh, it was beautiful, just beautiful.

DOROTHY SECKLER: Just marvelous. Which one of your paintings was that? What stage of your painting was it at, at that point?

LEE KRASNER: Oh, well, this would be the work I showed in the American Abstract Artists, and that would date back to the late thirties. And so I don’t remember which one, but it would have been a group of those. It would have been three of that kind of thing. I’ve remembered that for a long, long time and still indeed remember it. And isn’t it a nice comment to make?

DOROTHY SECKLER: And coming from a man like Mondrian.

LEE KRASNER: From Mondrian. And of course, mine was full of curves. I mean, much as it is now, it was curvilinear. And he said just that. And I remembered it and felt good about it.

DOROTHY SECKLER: It’s interesting, too, that is shows that here’s a man who didn’t allow curves in his own mature work at all, but he was perfectly able to see something in curves and see the strength of it.

LEE KRASNER: Oh, absolutely. He commented on all the paintings in just that brief way.

DOROTHY SECKLER: That’s marvelous.

LEE KRASNER: Oh, it kept me going a long time.