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Helen Frankenthaler

Helen  Frankenthaler

(1928 - 2011)
Born: New York, New York
Style: Post-Painterly Abstraction
Famous Works:
  • Mountains and Sea (1952)
  • Canyon (1965)
  • Desert Pass (1976)
Helen Frankenthaler grew up and studied in New York City, where she worked under Hans Hofmann and met many other Abstract Expressionists. There is no doubt that Frankenthaler was inspired by the all-over drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, and she poured paint onto unstretched, unprimed canvases as well. The very genesis of Frankenthaler's style can be seen in her landmark composition, Mountains and Sea, which she completed in 1952. What set Frankenthaler apart was her continuous experimentation with the materials she used. By thinning oil paints and eventually using acrylic, this Abstract Expressionist was able to manipulate large pools of pigment into gradated, organic forms. Brightly colored washes expose the role of the canvas in giving the pigments their final character. Her work grew in scale later in her career, and in 1959 she was awarded with first prize at the Paris Biennale. In 1966 she was selected to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale and the Expo 67 in Canada. Frankenthaler was married to Robert Motherwell, a principal member of Abstract Expressionism, from 1958 to 1971. Never satisfied with working in one medium, Frankenthaler applied her innovative methods to lithography, printmaking, aquatints, woodcutting, and sculpture. She even worked in set and costume design, notably creating pieces for the Royal Ballet of England. Helen Frankenthaler was 83 years old when she died in 2011, having continued to make art through her final years.
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