The Sheldon Museum of Art recently purchased one of the most important paintings it has acquired in decades.
Lee Krasner's “Invocation,” a 1970-71 painting by the widely known female artist who was married to Jackson Pollock, is a large-scale, abstract expressionist piece.
The work celebrates the museum's coming 50th anniversary next year and this year's 125th anniversary of the Sheldon Art Association, and fills a hole in the collection. Sheldon has only one other major abstract expressionist piece by a woman artist: Helen Frankenthaler's “Red Frame” from 1964.
“Invocation” is a large, abstract piece that derives images from nature. Bright green and salmon pink make up the bulk of the painting. Two circles, one tangerine, one hot pink, are in the upper right-hand corner.
The museum purchased the work from the Robert Miller Gallery, which represents Krasner's estate, and it came with a seven-figure price tag, making it one of the most expensive pieces Sheldon has purchased.
It's also the first time the Sheldon Art Association and the museum have joined forces to buy a painting.
Director J. Daniel Veneciano said the acquisition is an important one.
“Invocation” is part of a transitional period for Krasner's art. In the late 1950s, she had worked on a nature-focused series called the “Earth Green” paintings. She'd also worked on a dark series called “Night Journey.” In 1962, she nearly died after a brain aneurysm and had a number of years of poor health.
In the 1970s, Krasner returned to nature-derived imagery and added elements of calligraphy. The newer works resembled collage. She painted “Invocation” during this era. The piece fits well with two other pieces in Sheldon's collection.
The museum has one piece by Jackson Pollock, “Untitled (Composition with Ritual Scene),” a small painting from 1938-41 that the museum acquired in the 1990s. The museum also owns one other piece by Krasner, a small print.
“Invocation” is now on display in Sheldon's permanent collection galleries. The museum is at 12th and R Streets on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.
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