The Life and Work of Abstract Expressionist Artist Helen Frankenthaler

Beloved New York artist, Helen Frankenthaler, recently passed away at the age of 89. This post is a tribute to Helen Frankenthaler; to a life full of beauty and creativity.

“Mountains and Sea”

Frankenthaler initially caught the attention of many due to her unique style of pouring thinned paint onto canvas from coffee cans.  The process is commonly known as “soak- staining.”

Jackson Pollock’s “drip- painting” method was the inspiration for Frankenthaler’s style.  She is known for being a little more deliberate that Pollock with her pouring style.

“One of her most well known paintings is “Mountains and Sea.”  This painting demonstrates the similarities between soak staining and watercolor.  Both styles share a certain lightness and pliancy.

Frankenthaler’s style of abstract expressionism worked to propel the world of art in new and interesting directions.  The 1950’s and 1960’s Color Field Movement was largely influenced by this stain technique.

Helen Frankenthaler, 1952, Color Field paintin...

Frankenthaler is also known for her graceful public presence.  For the most part, she was able to avoid the limelight.  However, when the situation arose she proved competent and capable in expressing herself.

While serving as a presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts, Frankenthaler had the opportunity to advise the National Endowment for the Arts.  She had strong beliefs about the relationship between government and art.  She felt that the government should be given no opportunity to interfere with art or employ censorship.

As a presidential appointee, she worried about the National Endowment for the Arts and their grant giving process.  It was important to Frankenthaler that the NEA not give grants based on their collective likes or dislikes of individuals or styles.  She feared that government grants promoted censorship and government interference.

Frankenthaler confidently spoke about her opinions and as a result was able to help shape ideas and practices where art and government were concerned.

She will continue to be remembered as a phenomenal abstract painter, a trailblazer of abstract Expressionism, and a creative woman who lived a beautiful life.

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-1227-frankenthaler.jpg-20111227,0,832427.photo

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