As a second-generation postwar abstract artist, Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) played a key role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting beginning in the 1950s with her soak-stain technique which involved pouring thinned paint directly onto unprimed canvas. The juxtaposition of amorphous fields of color and gestural brushstrokes produced a vigorous rhythm of activity that are conveyed in the surface textures of her mark-making. At times throughout her career, she referenced figuration as well as landscape, despite the resulting consistently in abstraction.
Recognized as one of the great American artists of the 20th century and best known for her invention of the soak-stain technique, Frankenthaler was a fearless experimenter, particularly when it came to new materials and processes. In the later stages of her life, she deployed many of the same media and instruments that had been her longtime staples: charcoal, crayon, pastel, pen, and ink, as well as acrylic paint thinned out and applied with brushes, sponges, and an array of hardware utensils (windshield wipers, basters, and scrapers). Having always painted canvases directly on the studio floor, she started using larger sheets of paper—some measuring over 6 feet—likewise laid out on the floor or on tabletops for easier accessibility.
Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990-2003 will feature 20 paintings on paper and 10 paintings on canvas, all on loan from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The exhibition is the first opportunity to look at her late-career in depth.
The exhibition is curated by Douglas Dreishpoon, Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Catalogue Raisonné and Chief Curator Emeritus at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, with loans from the Collection of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
Lead support is provided by the Mary Ingebrand-Pohlad Foundation and the Sam & Diane Stewart Family Foundation.
In-kind support has been provided by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.
This season’s exhibitions are sponsored by the Herman & Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation and Yvonne & Steve* Maloney.