Helen Frankenthaler

Biography of Helen Frankenthaler

The American painter Helen Frankenthaler was an enormously influential artist in the mid-20th century. Her unique approach to Abstract Expressionism—a movement she was at first heavily associated with—ushered in her own distinct "soak-stain" method. Born in 1928, Frankenthaler moved through a variety of phases over her 60 active years as an artist. Throughout her career Frankenthaler strove to emphasize the role of spontaneity in her work.


Never afraid to use large formats, Helen Frankenthaler's work focused on forms found only in nature, using their fluid shapes, and her own lyrical gestures to make abstract compositions. As her career progressed, Frankenthaler explored other media, especially woodcuts, in which she aimed to replicate the watercolor quality of her color washes. Her beautiful and at times decorative work underplays the manner in which she allies compositional strength with the profound capture of emotional impulsivity. Frankenthaler died in 2011, her work already firmly established since the 60s in permanent collections such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. 

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