Helen Frankenthaler

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Helen Frankenthaler Photo

Helen Frankenthaler was a renowned and notable American painter, who is celebrated and acclaimed for her contribution to the development of color-field abstractions during the 50s and 60s.

Helen Frankenthaler was born on 12th December, 1928, in New York City. She began her basic artistic training and education at the Dalton School in New York, where she benefited from the tutelage of prolific Mexican artist, Rufino Tamayo. Later, she attended the Bennington College, where she studied from Paul Feeley and in 1948, she received her bachelors of art degree. Helen settled in New York City, and began conducting extensive travels to Europe. Shortly after, she tied the knot with painter, Robert Motherwell.

In 1951, Helen showcased her work at her first solo exhibition, which was an instant commercial and critical success and throughout the 50s, Helen remained a much in demand artist who actively participated in several prestigious and important shows and exhibitions all over the world. In 1960, she held massively successful and profitable exhibitions at the Jewish Museum in New York, and in 1962, she showcased her work at the Bennington College. During this time, she firmly established her position as an important and influential painter and her work garnered several international and domestic awards and accolades. In 1969, the Whitney Museum of American Art organised a lavish and huge retrospective in her honor.

Helen’s artistic perceptions and style was inspired by the black and white paintings of Jackson Pollock along with the abstract paintings of Willem de Kooning. Helen’s art was characterized with thinly pigmented, unprimed canvases that possessed a delicate and liquid appearance with dense surfaces marked with aggressive and ferocious strokes of the brush.

In 1952, with her painting, ‘Mountains and Sea’, she introduced artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland to the stain technique, which serves to improve the flow of color by naturally soaking it into the canvas and ensuring that the color pigmentation is even and well circulated on the canvas. In 1989, Helen’s ‘Mountains and Sea’ was described ranked amongst the “landmark paintings in the history of contemporary art” by the editor in chief of American Artist.

Towards the 60s and 70s, Helen began devoting her time to developing her own unique and distinctive style that could emphasize her emotions and adequately depict her perception of beauty, and she began experimenting with a wide and diverse variety of acrylic paints. Towards the late 70s, her work largely began dealing with cubism, and the cubist notions of space. Helen Frankenthaler’s work has been applauded and celebrated for its significant and influential contributions to the art world. She is accredited for the development of several innovative techniques and approaches that have facilitated and enhanced the use of color to improve the flow and portrayal of creativity.

Helen Frankenthaler continues to rank amongst the founders of contemporary art.

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