Killing Men & Dying Women

Imagining difference in 1950s New York painting

What did it mean to be a woman and a painter at the heart of abstract gestural painting in New York during the 1950s, if the iconic artist of that decade was Jackson Pollock, and the icon of Woman was Marilyn Monroe? Elaborating and explaining the relevance of theories of psycho-symbolic formations of sexual difference and their inscription in artistic practice, this book explores the 1950s triangulation Pollock–Monroe–Krasner, analysing how two painters of the two generations New York abstract artists, Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler, negotiated this paradox artistically. Differencing a masculinized canon of Abstract Expressionism defiantly disseminated in recent blockbuster exhibitions, Pollock argues for a theoretically rich feminist reading of gestural abstract painting that centred the psycho-sexual body through gesture. She argues for a resonance with the cultural antithesis of New York gestural painting – its popular other – in the performance work of Marilyn Monroe, which exceeded the star’s iconic image of white sexuality. Igniting a still-urgent debate about difference, artmaking and artwriting, Pollock presents a transdisciplinary feminist intervention in the context of blockbuster exhibitions such as Abstract Expressionism (London and Bilbao, 2016–17) – which omitted almost entirely that school’s women members – and the women-only Women in Abstract Expressionism (USA 2018), Making Space: Women in Postwar Abstraction (New York, MoMA, 2018) and Women in Abstraction (Paris and Bilbao, 2021–22). as well as solo ‘rediscovery’ shows – Lee Krasner: Living Colour (London and Bilboa, 2019–20) and Helen Frankenthaler (Venice, 2019).

Abstract only
Log-in for full text

    • Full book download (HTML)
    • Full book download (PDF with hyperlinks)
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 241 241 115
Full Text Views 97 97 44
PDF Downloads 66 66 45