Helen Frankenthaler

(1928 - 2011, Darien, Connecticut)

North America, American

Helen Frankenthaler is an internationally-recognized American painter, printmaker and sculptor who associated with the “New York School” of avant-garde artists while developing a unique style that came to be known as “stain painting.” Frankenthaler studied painting at Bennington College in Vermont and privately with abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann from 1950 to 1952. Championed by prominent art critic Clement Greenberg as early as 1950, Frankenthaler’s original technique, first realized in 'Mountains and Sea' (1952), involved thinning oil paint with turpentine, pouring it on raw canvas on the floor and spreading the paint slowly with sponges or by lifting the sides of the canvas. This technique profoundly influenced artists Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis, who along with Frankenthaler became identified as color field artists for their large fields of soaked or stained color applied in untraditional ways.

Frankenthaler began to use acrylic paint in 1963, which does not saturate the canvas as completely as oil paint, lending the forms a “flooded” rather than “stained” appearance. Over the course of the 1970s the artist expanded her practice into diverse media, including sculpture, drawing and printmaking. In the 1980s Frankenthaler produced many large-scale commissions, tapestries and set and costume designs for ballet and theater. While her large body of work is difficult to summarize, she remained dedicated to abstraction, preferring saturated color to line and drawing. Her work has been widely exhibited both nationally and internationally, with major retrospectives organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City; the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, among others.

New York, United States


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