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Lynne Drexler, the artist who escaped to a tiny island off of Maine, has the last laugh

2 min read  · 14 Jun 2023

Lynne Drexler - Untitled (1960). Copyright the Estate of Lynne Drexler

Lynne Drexler is on the HENI News radar as the late painter’s colorful abstracts, which were overlooked during her life, are rediscovered by collectors.

Drexler’s HENI Score—a unique artist sentiment—has surged by 121%, boosted by a string of big auction sales for her early abstract paintings.

Recent sales include a 1962 painting Summer Blossom, which sold in May 2023 for $1.38m, more than six and a half times its upper estimate at Christie’s. In 2022, Drexler’s 1960 painting, Matoaka Wood VI sold for $1.38m at Sotheby’s, above its upper estimate.

A number of Drexler's works have sold for between $50,000 and $1.4m over the past two years. The artist’s auction sales have totaled a remarkable $17.42m over the same period, unthinkable only a few years ago.

In 2022, Mnuchin Gallery joined forces with Berry Campbell Gallery to present “Lynne Drexler: the First Decade”, the first solo show of her work in New York for more than three decades.

Her works have been presented at major art fairs, including editions of Art Basel and Frieze by New York-based Berry Campbell, which works with the artist’s estate, as well as by Kasmin, New York, and Karma, New York and Los Angeles.

Lynne Drexler: The First Decade, installation view. Courtesy of Berry Campbell and Mnuchin Gallery

The artist, who was born in 1928 and died in 1999, first made her mark in New York in the 1960s but like other female abstract painters, she was overshadowed by her male contemporaries and soon overlooked by critics. In the 1980s she turned her back on the New York art world and moved to Monhegan, a tiny island off Maine. There she filled her home-studio with vibrant paintings, inspired by the rocky island's landscape, that became more representational towards the end of her life.

There were museum shows in Maine and Portland of her work after her death but it is only in the past few years that Drexler's sales have taken off as her works are re-evaluated along with paintings by other female abstract artists.

The art historian Gail Levin, the biographer of Lee Krasner, another artist who battled the male-dominated art world, wrote of Drexler: “Imagine a story of an artist who escaped from an art world rife with competition and her struggle to find herself, landing on an enchanted island, where she lived happily ever after, painting, though forgotten, for the rest of her life…” Drexler said she always knew she was a “damn good artist,” adding “although the world did not recognize me as such.”

Among Drexler’s fans are the model Chrissy Teigan and her husband, the musician John Legend. They proudly showed off their 1960s painting by Drexler when they gave the magazine Architectural Digest a tour of their New York home.

To get a deeper understanding of Lynne Drexler’s career visit her HENI Dashboard ; a unique graphical data tool illustrating an artist’s auction sales, shows, profiles, mentions and their HENI Score. You can search for any one of the 100,000 Artist Dashboards to quickly appreciate their trajectory as well as sharing via email, text and WhatsApp.


Lynne Drexler