Helen Frankenthaler, ‘What Red Lines Can Do’, 1970, Caviar20

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) is one of the most revered and influential abstract painters of the 20th century in addition to being one of the most successful and collected female artists.

Frankenthaler is credited with the evolution (or demise) of Abstract Expressionism. Elaborating on techniques made famous by Jackson Pollock, specifically pouring paint directly on to (frequently) unprimed canvas, Frankenthaler was the driving force of the next major movement in American abstraction: Color Field painting.

Frankenthaler had a tremendous influence on numerous artists of her generation and their successors including Kenneth Noland, Morris Lewis and Jules Olitski to mention a few.

Frankenthaler was married to fellow painter Robert Motherwell from 1958-1971. Not surprisingly during this period of just over a decade both artists immersed themselves in experimental printmaking. Frankenthaler tried and completed lithography, etchings, woodcuts and screenprints.

This screenprint is a fantastic example of her work; reminding of her mastery of negative space, her use of color and shapes that may or may not be sexualized. As an artist Frankenthaler had a curious relationship to color; at times her palettes are cohesive, others discordant and even confusing. We love this work for its simplicity - yet its conveys many of the characteristics found in her largest and most impressive canvases.

This work can be found in the permanent collection of the MoMA (New York City).

Signature: Signed, numbered and dated '70 by the artist.

Harrison 24

About Helen Frankenthaler

A second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter, Helen Frankenthaler became active in the New York School of the 1950s, initially influenced by artists like Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. She gained fame with her invention of the color-stain technique—applying thin washes of paint to unprimed canvas—in her iconic Mountains and Sea (1952), a motivating work for Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and other Color Field painters who emerged in the ’60s. Her own canvases, however, often evoked elements of landscape or figuration in the shaping of their forms. “My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates,” she once said. “They're not nature per se, but a feeling.” From 1958 to 1971, she was married to fellow Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell, who, like Frankenthaler, worked in symbolic painted gestures—only her paintings were almost always visibly improvised from start to finish. As poet and critic Frank O’Hara wrote in 1960, “she is willing to risk everything on inspiration.” In addition to painting, Frankenthaler also made ceramics, welded steel sculptures, and set designs, but the related medium that most attracted her, and in which her achievement came the closest painting, was printmaking—especially the creation of woodcuts, hers counting among the greatest of contemporary works in that medium.

American, 1928-2011, New York, New York, based in New York and Darien, Connecticut