Helen Frankenthaler, Abstract Painter, Dies at 83

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

The artist Helen Frankenthaler in her studio on Contentment Island in Darien, Conn., in 2003, with her work, “Blue Lady,” acrylic on paper.

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Her longtime assistant, Maureen St. Onge, said Ms. Frankenthaler died after a long illness but gave no other details.

Known as a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Ms. Frankenthaler was married during the movement’s heyday to the painter Robert Motherwell, a leading first-generation member of the group. But she departed from the first generation’s romantic search for the “sublime” to pursue her own path.

Refining a technique, developed by Jackson Pollock, of pouring pigment directly onto canvas laid on the floor, Ms. Frankenthaler, heavily influencing the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, developed a method of painting best known as Color Field — although Clement Greenberg, the critic most identified with it, called it Post-Painterly Abstraction. Where Pollock had used enamel that rested on raw canvas like skin, Ms. Frankenthaler poured turpentine-thinned paint in watery washes onto the raw canvas so that it soaked into the fabric weave, becoming one with it.

Her staining method emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, and it called attention to the very nature of paint on canvas, a concern of artists and critics at the time. It also brought a new open airiness to the painted surface and was credited with releasing color from the gestural approach and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.

read more at NYTimes Arts

Helen Frankenthaler
Image by rocor via Flickr

Ocean-Aire (for Helen Frankenthaler)
Image by Richard C. Anderson via Flickr

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~ by The Gallery Goddess on December 27, 2011.

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