Lee Krasner (1908-1984)
Property of a Distinguished American Collection
Lee Krasner (1908-1984)

Untitled (The Mouse Trap)

Lee Krasner (1908-1984)
Untitled (The Mouse Trap)
signed, titled and dated twice 'The Mouse Trap Lee Krasner 1949' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm.)
Painted in 1949.
Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Private collection, Dallas
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 10 May 2006, lot 130
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
J.B. Myers, "Naming Pictures: Conversations Between Lee Krasner and John Bernard Myers," Artforum 23, no. 3, November 1984, p. 69.
E. Landau, Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1995, pp.113-114, no. 223 (illustrated in color).
Greenville County Museum of Art, Just Like a Woman, March-May 1988, p. 9 (illustrated in color).
Other Dimensions, 1989-1990, pp. 15 and 99, pl. 9 (illustrated in color).
Coral Gables, University of Miami, Lowe Art Museum; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art and New Brunswick, Rutgers University, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Abstract Expressionism: Other Dimensions, An Introduction to Small Scale Painterly Abstraction in America, 1940-1965, October 1989-June 1990, pp. 15 and 99, pl. 9 (illustrated in color).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Des Moines Art Center; Akron Art Museum and Brooklyn Museum, Lee Krasner, October 1999-January 2001, p. 80, no. 31 (illustrated in color).


Lee Krasner's Untitled (The Mouse Trap), 1949 is a visual tour de force. Blue, red, green and yellow skeins of paint are intricately interwoven and united by an overall net of white creating a virtuoso surface. The work's title refers to an incident that took place at The Springs in 1949 but it is also aptly titled for its hypnotic appeal.

John Bernard Myers collaborated with Krasner often by naming her paintings. This particular work's name came about in a curious fashion as he recounted, "We were sitting in the kitchen; her husband, Jackson Pollock was with us, when suddenly a wood rat scampered into the room. Pollock grabbed a broom; the rat headed toward the doorway to the living room, across which was placed the painting we had been looking at. The painting stopped the creature, down came the broom, and the rat was exterminated. I was reminded of a picture Meyer Schapiro had lectured on, a 15th century triptych called The Mouse Trap, by Robert Campin. It had something to do with Christ and the trapping of souls. Since it wasn't a big rat we decided 'mouse' would be more appropriate for the title. Perhaps the picture would 'trap' the imagination of viewers" (J. B. Meyers quoted in E. Landau, Lee Krasner: A Catalogue Raisonn©, New York, 1995, p. 114).