Strength in Immediacy and Helen Frankenthaler


"Circus Landscape" 1951 Oil and Charcoal

Helen Frankenthaler was an American icon in the era of Abstract Expressionism. She's been credited with initiating the subsequent movement of Color Field Painting where simplified compositions using large masses of color became part of the canvas.  

"Western Dreams" 1957 Oil on canvas

Her soak-stain technique was the pathway to this new form of abstraction and consisted of a method where the oil paint would be thinned down with turpentine and applied directly to an unprimed canvas. Fluid fields of luminescent color would emerge in a way not seen before.  

"Flirt" 2003 42 color screen print

Frankenthaler expansive career was not limited to painting. She was introduced in the early 60's to printmaking by Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Arts Editions. Although resistant at first, this proved to be an area for further innovation and creativity for Frankenthaler.   Many of Frankenthaler's prints mirror the fluid nature of her painting. In fact I had a hard time distinguishing paintings from prints while researching and looking at her work. She was able through a multi-layered process to create imagery that looked fluid and spontaneous.   Frankenthaler among other things was interested in the moment. In her words about her work; "A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it—well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me."



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