• Photography by Joanna Avilez. Courtesy of the Photographer.

Homage to Lee Krasner's "City Verticals"

Gwenn Thomas

From the Art Lies Feature: Prepositional Art

I was inspired by the work of Lee Krasner and her urban themed collages, in particular her large 1953 collage City Verticals. My work consists of a series of five color collages (Abstracts 23-27, 1998-99) that I photographed and printed on canvas. Krasner’s work had a rigor and toughness that I admired, and her collages were very linked to the collages that I was making at the time. I was using a similar process, assembling drawing fragments, scraps of cut paper, and torn photographs, which I would then photograph and print as iris/pigment prints on canvas. 

I felt that Krasner's collages involved many things that were in my own work.  Her art seemed so actual and prescient and connected to what I was trying to do. I never met Lee Krasner or any of the other artists for whom I did homage works. I am from the post-modernist, appropriation-art generation, yet my homage works are not appropriations, they are not literal copies of other artists’ works. (To some degree, I’m appropriating myself, insofar as this particular body of my work is manifested as reproductions of my own collages.) I see them more as links—highlights—along the continuum of my own work, most of which is not any kind of “homage.” 

I've also created homages to Mondrian, Moholy-Nagy, Sonia Delaunay, Anni Albers and the women weavers of the Bauhaus. I see the work of Albers and Delaunay as multifaceted and contemporary. Perhaps making “homages” is a learning process that recognizes our indebtedness as artists ourselves. We are each on our own trajectory with all that we have assimilated over time.