Helen Frankenthaler, one of my favorite painters, died today at age 83… apparently she died after a long illness, but no other details are known.
Frankethaler is known as a second generation abstract painter and hobnobbed with the best painters of her era, she was even married to Robert Motherwell in the 60s(photos from their townhouse below). After seeing Jackson Pollock technique of spilling and dripping paint on a canvas, she was enthralled by the idea and internalized it and made it her own. She began to paint by using diluted paint and staining it into raw canvas. Which means that instead of paint sitting on the surface of a primed canvas, it sinks into the fabric of the canvas and almost becomes like a dyed piece of fabric. She has even said that people have said her painting “Mountains & Sea” looked like old paint rags… I’ve made some paintings in this style, its a totally different type of painting. She also laid out rolls of canvas flat on the floor. I also do that, but back in the 50s and 60s this stuff was totally new- everyone was experimenting with different ways to make a painting, dripping, throwing, staining etc… Frankenthaler was a pioneer of color field painting (basically painting blocks of color on a canvas, as in Rothko) and was one of the greatest women artists ever, a huge influence, and maybe my all time favorite.
You can read her whole obituary, some of which I summarized HERE.
In her studio in the 60s.
This piece was shown at art basel this year with a price tag of $800,000.
The townhouse she shared with Robert Motherwell. How I die for this house:
Their parties were supposedly epic. And damn, the art in that house.
Goodbye Helen Frankenthaler…