Women of the Week: The Overlooked Women Married to Famous Painters

Women of the Week: The Overlooked Women Married to Famous Painters

This week’s selection: Overlooked female artists who happened to be married to famous painters.

Who they are: Elaine de Kooning (1918-1989), Lee Krasner (1908-1984), Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), Anni Albers (1899-1994) and Gabriele Münter (1877-1962).

Why we picked them: We’ve decided to honor female artists whose accomplishments are often overshadowed by their husband’s more illustrious careers. Rarely introduced in fundamental art history courses, these women exhibited artwork, socialized with luminaries and, in many cases, helped promote and support their husband’s artistic endeavors to the detriment of their own. In the last few years, private galleries and museums — including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. — have re-examined the aforementioned female artists, in some cases finding new and deeper meanings to their artwork.

Elaine de Kooning

“Self Portrait,” Elaine de Kooning. Courtesy Smithsonian.

A prominent art world figure in the post-World War II era, Elaine de Kooning was a prolific Abstract Expressionist painter and well-known art critic. Early in her career, De Kooning was one of the few women to be involved with the influential Eighth Street Club in New York.

Lee Krasner

Night Creatures,” Lee Krasner.

One of the leading figures in 20th-century American art, Lee Krasner created large-scale paintings during the Abstract Expressionist period and was one of the only women to receive a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

Leonora Carrington

How doth the little crocodile…,” Leonora Carrington.

Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington created colorful paintings and whimsical sculptures that pushed back against the objectification of women often associated with Surrealism.

Anni Albers

Tapestry,” Anni Albers.

The first textile artist to be featured in a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, Bauhaus artist Anni Albers was instrumental in elevating textiles within the fine art realm.

Gabriele Münter

“Self-Portrait in front of an easel,” Gabriele Münter.

German Expressionist painter Gabriele Münter, best-known for her color renderings of landscapes, domestic spaces and self-portraits, was a founding member of the pioneering group De Blaue Reiter (“blue rider”).

Top Image: "Polar Stampede," Lee Krasner. Courtesy of Sharon Mollerus