Frankenthaler, Helen

Frankenthaler, Helen

Frankenthaler, Helen (frăngkˈənthŏlər), 1928–2011, American painter, b. New York City. The youngest of the women who formed part of abstract expressionism's second generation, Frankenthaler was greatly influenced by Jackson Pollock, with whom she studied. Her abstract works evoke a lyrical and sensuous mood, as in Blue Territory (1955) and Arden (1961; both: Whitney Mus., New York City). She also developed a technique for staining unprimed canvases with thinned-out, translucent oil or acrylic paint, pouring the color on canvas that was placed on the floor. She first used this technique in Mountains and Sea (1952, National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.), which many consider a prime inspiration for the color-field painting of the 1960s. The technique later influenced such painters as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and a variety of women artists. Frankenthaler was also a skilled printmaker.

Bibliography

See studies by K. Wilkin (1985), E. A. Carmean (1989), J. Elderfield (1989), R. Fine (1993), P. Harrison (1996), J. Goldman et al. (2002), J. Brown and S. Cross (2003), A. Rowley (2008), J. Elderfield (2013), and K. Siegel (2015); M. Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (2018).

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Frankenthaler, Helen

(1928–  ) painter; born in New York City. She studied with many teachers, including Hans Hofmann (1950), and was married to Robert Motherwell (1958–71). Based in New York City, she taught in numerous places and is known for her staining technique using thinned oils and acrylics on unprimed canvases. Her optical effects first gained public acclaim with Mountains and Sea (1952).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.