New York, 1928 - 2011

Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler whose career spanned six decades, has long been recognized as one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. Heir of first-generation Abstract Expressionism, she brought together in her work—with prodigious inventiveness and singular beauty—a conception of the canvas as both a formalized field and an arena for gestural drawing. She was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. One of the foremost colorists of our time, she produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound.

Frankenthaler, daughter of New York State Supreme Court Justice Alfred Frankenthaler and his wife, Martha (Lowenstein) Frankenthaler, was born in December 1928, and raised...

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Biography

Helen Frankenthaler whose career spanned six decades, has long been recognized as one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. Heir of first-generation Abstract Expressionism, she brought together in her work—with prodigious inventiveness and singular beauty—a conception of the canvas as both a formalized field and an arena for gestural drawing. She was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. One of the foremost colorists of our time, she produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound.

Frankenthaler, daughter of New York State Supreme Court Justice Alfred Frankenthaler and his wife, Martha (Lowenstein) Frankenthaler, was born in December 1928, and raised in New York City. She attended the Dalton School, where she received her earliest art instruction from Rufino Tamayo. In 1949 she graduated from Bennington College, where she was a student of Paul Feeley, following which she went on to study briefly with Hans Hofmann.

Frankenthaler’s professional exhibition career began in 1950, when Adolph Gottlieb selected her painting Beach (1950) for inclusion in the exhibition titled Fifteen Unknowns: Selected by Artists of the Kootz Gallery. Her first solo exhibition was presented in 1951, at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery, and she was also included that year in the landmark exhibition 9th St. Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Renowned art critic Clement Greenberg recognized her originality, and her work soon went on to garner growing international attention. As early as 1959 she began to be a regular presence in major international exhibitions, and in 1960 she had her first museum retrospective, at the Jewish Museum, in New York.

In 1952 Frankenthaler created Mountains and Sea, a seminal, breakthrough painting of American abstraction. Pioneering the “stain” painting technique, she worked by pouring thinned paint directly onto raw, unprimed canvas laid on the studio floor, working from all sides to create floating fields of translucent color. Mountains and Sea was immediately influential for the artists who formed the Color Field school of painting, notable among them Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. Thereafter, Frankenthaler remained a defining force in the development of American painting.

Throughout her long career, Frankenthaler experimented tirelessly, and, in addition to unique paintings on canvas and paper, she worked in a wide range of media, including ceramics, sculpture, tapestry, and especially printmaking. Hers was a significant voice in the mid-century “print renaissance” among American abstract painters, and she is particularly renowned for her woodcuts. She continued working productively through the opening years of this century.

Artworks

White Flight, 1979

Related Categories

20th Century Art / Abstract Expressionism / Abstract Painting / Abstraction / Acrylic on Canvas / Acrylic Paint / Acrylic Painting / American Abstract Expressionism / American Art / Art of the 1970s / Artists of All Time / Canvas / Color Field Abstraction / Color Field Painting / Contemporary American Art / Gentle and Smooth Brushstrokes / Lyrical Expression / New York / Painting / Print / United States / Women Artists / Woodcut

Curriculum Vitae

Education

  • 1949

    BA, Bennington College, Bennington, VT.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    PITTURA/PANORAMA: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952-1992. Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, Italy.

  • Sea Change: A decade of paintings, 1974-1983. Gagosian, Rome, Italy.

  • Woodcuts: Prints and Proofs. Kode Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen, Norway.

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Painters of the East End, Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY.

  • 2018

    pic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

  • Peindre la nuit. Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France.

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Curriculum Vitae

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Education

  • 1949

    BA, Bennington College, Bennington, VT.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

  • 2019

    PITTURA/PANORAMA: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952-1992. Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, Italy.

  • Sea Change: A decade of paintings, 1974-1983. Gagosian, Rome, Italy.

  • Woodcuts: Prints and Proofs. Kode Art Museums and Composer Homes, Bergen, Norway.

  • 2018

    Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown. Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA.

  • Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

  • 2017

    Helen Frankenthaler: After Abstract Expressionism, 1959-1962. Gagosian Gallery, Paris, France.

  • 2016

    Line into Color, Color into Line: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings 1962–1987. Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.

  • 2014

    Giving Up One’s Mark: Helen Frankenthaler in the 1960s and 1970s. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

  • Helen Frankenthaler: Composing with Color: Paintings 1962–1963. Gagosian Gallery, Madison Ave, New York, NY.

  • 2013

    Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959. Gagosian Gallery, W.21st Street, New York, NY.

  • 2010

    Helen Frankenthaler, Paintings: 1961-1973. John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

  • 2009

    Helen Frankenthaler. Ameringer McEnroy Yohe, New York, NY.

  • 2008

    Helen Frankenthaler, East and Beyond: Woodcuts 1973-1977. Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York, NY.

  • New Edition: Helen Frankenthaler. Pace Editions, New York, NY.

  • Helen Frankenthaler: Paintings 1959-2002. Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, England.

  • Frankenthaler at Eighty: Six Decades. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • 2007

    Frankenthaler: Sculpture. Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, Bennington, VT.

  • Helen Frankenthaler: Master Paintings. Ameringer Yohe Fine Art, New York, NY.

  • 2006

    Frankenthaler: Serigraphs. Gallery One, Toronto, Canada.

  • Frankenthaler: Sculptur. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • 2005

    Against the Grain: the Woodcuts of Helen Frankenthaler. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia.

  • 2004

    Leslie Sacks Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA.

  • Frankenthaler: Works on Paper, 1998-2002. Meredith Long & Company, Houston, TX.

  • Helen Frankenthaler: Woodcuts & Woodblocks. Pace Editions/Prints, New York, NY.

  • 2003

    Frankenthaler: Paintings on Paper (1949 – 2002). Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL; traveled to Edinburgh Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland.

  • Frankenthaler: New Paintings. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • Helen Frankenthaler: A Print Survey. Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York, NY.

  • 2002

    Frankenthaler: The Woodcuts. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; traveled to: Naples Art Museum, Naples, FL; Dai Nippon Graphics Center, Tokyo, Japan; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; Slander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, NY.

  • 2001

    Helen Frankenthaler: Three Decades of Painting. Ameringer Howard, New York, NY.

  • Frankenthaler: Lighthouse Series. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2019

    Painters of the East End, Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY.

  • 2018

    pic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.

  • Peindre la nuit. Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France.

  • The Water Lilies: American Abstract Art and the Last Monet. Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, France.

  • Surface Work. Victoria Miro, London, England.

  • 2017

    Abstract Expressionism. Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain.

  • Matisse and American Art. Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ.

  • Woman of Abstract Expressionism. Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA.

  • The Beginning of Everything: Drawings from the Janie C. Lee, Louisa Stude Sarom, and David Whitney Collections. The Menil Collection, Houston, TX.

  • The Great Graphic Boom. Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo, Norway.

  • Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.

  • 2016

    Postwar: Art between the Pacific and the Atlantic 1945–1965. Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany.

  • Hartung and Lyrical Painters. Fonds Hélène & Edouard Leclerc pour la Culture, Landerneau, France.

  • Abstract Expressionism. The Royal Academy of Arts. London, England.

  • Plane.Site. Gagosian Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

  • Women of Abstract Expressionism. Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO.

  • 2015

    A New Look: 1960s and ‘70s Abstract Painting at the AGO. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

  • East and Beyond: Helen Frankenthaler and Her Contemporaries. Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA.

  • Frankenthaler, Rockburne & Sterne. Van Doren Waxter, New York, NY.

  • Pretty Raw: After and Around Helen Frankenthaler. Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.

  • In the Studio: Picturing the Artist’s Workplace. Gagosian Gallery, W. 21st St., New York, NY.

  • The New York School, 1969: Henry Geldzahler at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY.

  • 2014

    Making Painting: Helen Frankenthaler and JMW Turner. Turner Contemporary, Margate, England.

  • 2010

    Group Show 2010. Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY.

  • The Changing Soil: Contemporary Landscape Painting. Nagoya/Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Nagoya, Japapn.

  • 2009

    Early Moderns: A Celebration of Gifts from Gifford and Joann Phillips. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

  • Artists Femmes dans les Collections du Centre Pompidou. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France.

  • Helen Frankenthaler and the Color Field Painters. The Bascom, Highlands, NC.

  • Circa 1959. Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY.

  • Selected Works by Gallery Artists. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • 2008

    Degas to Diebenkorn: The Phillips Collects. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

  • The American Evolution: A History Through Art. Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

  • Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976. The Jewish Museum, New York, NY.

  • Reverberations: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Bank of America Collection.

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.

  • American Modern: Works from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.

  • 2007

    The Abstract Impulse: Fifty Years of Abstraction at the National Academy, 1956- 2006. National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York, NY.

  • Prewar Modernism, Postwar Modern. Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, NY.

  • Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Musuem of Art, New York, NY.

  • Color as Field: American Painting, 1950-1975. Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO; traveled to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

  • 2006

    Full House: Views of the Whitney’s Collection at 75. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

  • Reframing American Art: Selection from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection. Neuberger Museum of Art, New York, NY.

  • 2005

    The World of Contemporary American Woodcuts, 12th Exhibition of Prints from Tyler Graphics Archive Collection. Center for Contemporary Graphic Art and Tyler Graphic Archive Collection, Japan.

  • Color Field Paintings of the 1960s. Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY.

  • Picturing America: Selections from the Whitney Museum of American Art. Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum, Nagasaki, Japan.

  • A Time & Place: East and West Coast Abstraction from the ‘60s and ‘70s: Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hoffman, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella. Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, CA.

  • Artists & Prints: Part 3. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.

  • 2004

    Geometric Abstraction and Beyond. Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York, NY.

  • The Kenneth E. Tyler Print Gift. Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool, London, England. 2003 Four Decades of Art from the Broad Collections. Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain. Visions and Revisions: Art on Paper Since 1960. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

  • Challenging Tradition: Women of the Academy, 1826-2003. National Academy of Design, New York, NY.

  • 2002

    New York Renaissance: Masterworks from the Whitney Museum of American Art.

  • Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy.

  • The Andre Emmerich Gallery: A Documentary Portrait. Archives of American Art, New York Regional Center Gallery, New York, NY.

  • Black Mountain College: Experimenting With Power. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain.

  • An American Legacy, a Gift to New York. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

  • 2001

    The Chromatic Eye: New York Paintings and Prints From the 1960’s. Norton Simon Art Museum, Pasadena, CA.

  • A Century of Drawing: Works on Paper from Degas to LeWitt. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

  • 2000

    Pasted Pictures: College & Abstraction in the 20th Century. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • Months and Moons. ACA Galleries, New York, NY.

  • Making Choices: 24 exhibitions of Modern Art from 1920 to 1960. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.

  • The Collector as Patron in the 20th Century. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • Outlook. Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, England.

  • September Selections. Knoedler & Company, New York, NY.

  • Celebrating Modern Art: The Anderson Collection. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA.

  • An American Focus: The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; traveled to the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA.

  • Collection Highlights: Color Field Paintings. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

  • Selections from the First Fifty Years, 1950-2000. Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, NY.

  • Shining Moment: Color and Abstraction in the 1960s. Ameringer/Howard, New York, NY.

  • Drawn to Matisse: Modern & Contemporary Works on Paper. Ameringer/Howard, New York, NY.

  • The Painted Canvas. John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California

  • The American Century: Art & Culture, 1900-2000, Part II, 1950-2000. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

  • Icons. Ameringer Howard, New York, NY.

Collections

  • Abbott Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, England.

  • Academy of Arts, Honolulu, HA.

  • Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA.

  • Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH.

  • Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

  • Amarillo Museum Amarillo, TX.

  • American University, Washington, D.C.

  • Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée des beaux-arts de l’Ontario, Toronto, Canada.

  • The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

  • Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand.