Lee Krasner: A Through Line | Clifford Prince King: Yesterday and Beyond

Cal State Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840
Feb 07, 12 PM - 7 PM — ends May 19, 2023
"I am never free of the past. I have made it crystal clear that I believe the past is a part of the present which becomes part of the future." —Lee Krasner

Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum presents Lee Krasner: A Through Line. The exhibition provides a context to explore important abstract paintings and collages from the 1940s to the early 1960s. The exhibition includes four of the five Krasner works held in the Museum’s Gordon F. Hampton Collection and works on loan. A Through Line specifically highlights breakthrough moments in her career made possible through her practice of revisiting ideas over time. The artist leveraged exemplary marks, spatial strategies, and recurring themes in her pursuit of illusionistic gestural abstraction.

A Through Line begins with an exploration of Krasner’s early interest in cubism and her desire to develop purely abstract painting that appears dimensional without the illusory techniques of representational painting. Influenced by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Hans Hofmann, her work in the 1930s and 1940s set the stage for her transformation in the 1950s and 1960s. We invite Museum visitors to study Krasner’s untitled work from 1942. It hangs alongside Pablo Picasso’s 1926 print, Scène d’intérieur, and Hans Hofmann’s painting Pure Space (1952) which has not been exhibited since its creation. These three works illustrate shared interests in exploring depth of field, linework, and different modes of geometric and gestural abstraction. Pure Space offers visitors to the exhibition an opportunity to better understand how Hans Hofmann theory of “push and pull” was translated into paint. As the exhibition continues, Krasner’s works demonstrate the continuing influence of Picasso, Matisse, and Hofmann.

From Krasner’s early cubist painting, visitors continue toward the center of A Through Line. Her poorly received 1951 exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery is a main event in her career after which she hit a sustained stride that would cement her reputation. The Museum is pleased to present one of two paintings which survive from this Parsons exhibition. On loan from Kasmin Gallery New York, the breathtaking Number 2 (1951) will be on view for the third time in its history and, seventy-one years later, only the second time in the United States ever. Number 2 survived destruction by Krasner. She used most of the paintings from Parsons for collage scrap or underpaintings for later works presented in 1955.


Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum is pleased to organize the first museum solo exhibition in the Los Angeles area for LA-based photographer Clifford Prince King. Yesterday and Beyond, is open February 7 through May 19, 2023. King’s exhibition will be accompanied by a digital catalogue with an essay by Darnell Moore.

This is the first solo photography exhibition following the Museum’s work to redefine its collecting priorities. Recently acquired, King’s For What It’s Worth, 2019, was the Museum’s first photography acquisition by purchase in over a decade.

King’s large photographs printed digitally from scanned 35mm film negatives embrace the grainy artifacts of the scanning process. His golden-hued compositions of friends and acquaintances in mostly domestic spaces connect with the history of figurative photography and classical painting. Yet King’s delectable color palette and historically grounded figurative arrangements feature Queer Black bodies in moments of close intimacy largely absent from art history. In a review for the New York Times, critic Aruna D’Souza writes that King’s work “is about the subtleties of human contact.” Emily Dinsdale, writing for Dazed magazine, explains that King “explore[s] themes of Black male queer identity by documenting shared, intimate moments of human camaraderie and vulnerability among friends and lovers.”

King’s work has developed decades after the origins of personal, no-holds-barred diaristic images made by Boston School photographers like Nan Goldin, Mark Morrisroe, and Jack Pierson. Yet, that art history offers valuable context for King’s photographs. Early critiques of images by photographers in the Boston School circle often proposed that their work offered an unfiltered look at the artists’ lives in 1980s and ‘90s New York City. Later critical responses questioned how unfiltered the images really were. Given the pervasive culture of selfie-taking and camera phone photo-making today, many of us—through daily image making—now better understand how mediated and personally subjective photographs are. Today, we often look at historic photographs and question what or whose reality is being presented to us. Working at a time when social media appears to have removed all boundaries between private and public, King’s work suggests new ways of thinking about how we share and why. Rather than trying to resolve this tension between what a photograph is and what a photograph does, King leverages these qualities to chart an additional use of the photographic image. He accomplishes this by carefully creating photographs that propose to be neither absolute truth nor complete fiction; King creates realities he and others need.

In the introduction to his anthology, Brother to Brother, New Writings by Black Gay Men (1991), poet Essex Hemphill wrote, “In our fiction, prose, and poetry, there is a need to reveal more of our beauty in all its diversity. We need more honest pictures of ourselves… Ours should be a vision willing to exceed all that attempts to confine and intimidate us.” In this vein, King uses a film camera to make images from situations he sets up and allows to unfold. Akin to planned documentation, the scenes in his photographs capture moments in an action sequence set in motion. Suggestive and not entirely clear, the narratives shared with the viewer are coded and either legible or partially illegible depending on who is viewing them.

Clifford Prince King: Yesterday and Beyond is made possible through a grant by Pasadena Art Alliance, funds from The Constance W. Glenn Endowment, and the collaborative labor and time of the Museum and CSULB communities, Darnell Moore, Jeff Keiss, Light Work, and Clifford Prince King.