Built on the gestural, figurative works that Lee Krasner began the previous year, The Seasons (1957) marks an important shift in scale and immediacy. This painting is part of her “Earth Green” series, seventeen works she had just begun in 1956 when she learned of the death of her husband, Jackson Pollock (1926–2011).
After Krasner moved her studio from a bedroom in her home to the large barn where her husband had worked, the scale of her works increased markedly. Her Abstract Expressionist forms gained an immersive scale and a painterly immediacy. When the “Earth Green” series was exhibited in 1958, art critic B. H. Friedman wrote, “The paintings are a stunning affirmation of life.”
In The Seasons, ripe rounded forms, curving gestural lines, dripping rivulets of paint, and a lush pink-green palette are simultaneously exuberant and composed; the sepia-brown lines define painterly fields of color, condensing the space of the painting and creating a jostling synthesis of powerful elements. Critics have seen plant-like bud forms, flowers, fruit, eggs, and figurative suggestions of breasts and female genitalia in this work, suggesting fecund cycles of birth and growth, but perhaps also the proximity of ripeness to decay. Combining automatic drawing with painterly technique, The Seasons engulfs the viewer in a world that holds tragedy and vivacity together in painterly suspension. “Painting is not separate from life,” Krasner said. “It is one. It is like asking—do I want to live? My answer is yes—and I paint.”