HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Gail Levin

Acclaimed Art Historian and Biographer


  • Lee Krasner and Abstract Expressionism
  • Edward Hopper and American Realism
  • Judy Chicago and Feminism
  • American Artists and Political Activism
  • The Art Market


New York

An accomplished curator and authoritative biographer, Gail Levin currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Art History, American Studies, and Women's Studies at the Graduate Center and Baruch College of the City University of New York. She is the author of numerous books on twentieth-century and contemporary art, as well as the biographies Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography (a New York Times notable book and one of the Wall Street Journal's five best artist biographies of all time), Becoming Judy Chicago, and most recently Lee Krasner (William Morrow). As a keynote speaker, Levin has lectured extensively at museums, universities, libraries, and art festivals across the United States and abroad.

Lee Krasner is best known as the artist-wife of Jackson Pollock, the renowned abstract expressionist painter. Yet in Levin's riveting biography and talks, she challenges previous portrayals of Krasner, and shows that she was an independent and resourceful woman of uncompromising talent and prodigious energy. For a decade before she was with Pollock, she lived with a dashing Russian who had ties to the Tsar, was arrested as political demonstrator, was called a "Trotskyite" for speaking out at the Artists Union, and met Eleanor Roosevelt while working on the W.P.A. Though outspoken and sometimes irascible, Krasner was magnetic -- "She had the kind of animal energy and voluptuousness we later came to call sex appeal," said a friend. Levin colorfully analyzes how these events and relationships all contributed to Krasner's mythic status as one of the most polemic artists of the last century.

Among Levin's many awards are a Distinguished Fulbright Chair to the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands, Fulbright Senior Scholar to Japan, numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center Research Fellowship. She also served as president of the Catalogue Raisonne' Scholars Association, an affiliate of the College Art Association.

She lives in New York.

Praise for Lee Krasner:

"Ms. Levin's perceptive, judicious book reveals Krasner as a fine, important painter . . . This is an insightful, sharply drawn portrait of 20th-century America from the vantage point of a creative woman swept up in a realm of remarkable artistic productivity."
-- Wall Street Journal

"Art historian Gail Levin's Lee Krasner is a quintuple whammy of a biography - the story of a major artist; a description of a notorious marriage; an education in 20th-century art; a gossipy immersion into Bohemian New York; and a settling of scores against those who practiced gender bias."
-- O, The Oprah Magazine

"For the love of art . . . Art historian Gail Levin frames the extremely colorful life of Lee Krasner, major ass-kicking Abstract Expressionist and formidable genius in her own right, better known for boosting the career of her splashier-than-life husband, Jackson Pollock."
-- Vanity Fair

"Compelling. Art historian Gail Levin has drawn on her close association with Lee Krasner and extensive research to produce a biography that rings fair and true."
-- Los Angeles Times

"Gail Levin has taken on the formidable task of rescuing Lee Krasner from personal misrepresentation and artistic erasure by describing the life of the woman and the career of the artist. She has succeeded masterfully in this dual purpose. Levin . . . is an ideal biographer for her subject . . . measured, thoughtful, succinct."
-- Boston Globe

"It's about time someone set the record straight about artist Lee Krasner . . . Absorbing . . . Succinct . . . Invaluable . . . A compelling biography that is as important an addition to the library of American art as any book on Pollock."
-- Chicago Sun-Times

"Detailed and meticulously researched . . . essential reading."
-- Library Journal

"Gail Levin's stunning new biography finally proves Krasner's relationship with Jackson Pollock was only a sliver of an enormously colorful life.... Levin's biography ensures that Lee Krasner will never again be known merely as 'Mrs. Jackson Pollock.'"
-- Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[B]iographer Gail Levin sets the record straight: Krasner was a fierce, fascinating and gifted artist . . . Lee Krasner adds more luster, meticulously tracing the artist's life."
-- Cleveland Plain Dealer

"For far too long, the artist Lee Krasner's reputation has been overshadowed by that of her renowned husband, artist Jackson Pollock. This lively, well-researched biography by Levin finally corrects that injustice. Writing with a novelist's flair for characterization and scene-setting, the author traces Krasner's life through the miseries of the Great Depression to the world of art and leftist politics of New York in the '30s and '40s."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Written with unassuming grace. This rigorously researched, straightforward account attempts to set the record straight about Krasner . . . the artist could not have found a more gifted biographer to retell her story and argue her case . . . [a] fascinating and absorbing biography."
-- Jewish Daily Forward

"At Gail Levin's bidding, the armor-plated Widow Pollock steps aside to reveal the complicated, gifted, vulnerable and fascinating woman behind the legend. Rigorous research, deep knowledge of art and cultural history, penetrating analysis and a flair for storytelling bring to life a fully formed Lee Krasner. Those who never knew her will wish they had, and those who did will be amazed."
-- Helen A. Harrison, Director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center

"Levin...is now the first to tell Krasner's captivating story, writing with equal insight into her temperament, experiences, and art . . . A consummate scholar, marvelously lucid writer, and gracefully responsible biographer, Levin redresses glaring omissions in the history of abstract art in this imperative portrait of a formidable artist."
-- Booklist (starred review)

"In Lee Krasner, Gail Levin presents Krasner as a smart, dynamic, and sexy woman focused on making art while experiencing the life of a New York artist during the exciting years of the mid-twentieth century. Scrupulously researched, Levin's gripping biography seamlessly weaves together the voices of Krasner herself and of other artists and critics . . . A compelling read."
-- Patricia Hills, author of Modern Art in the USA: Issues and Controversies of the 20th Century, Boston University