helen frankenthaler 1928 2011
helen frankenthaler 1928 2011 helen frankenthaler 1928 2011
dec 27, 2011

helen frankenthaler 1928 2011

helen frankenthaler in her new york studio at 83rd street and third avenue, 1964, with one of her interior landscapes behind her on the wall (work in the collection of san francisco museum of modern art) image by alexander liberman. alexander liberman photography archive, research library, the getty research institute, los angeles, california. (2000.R.19) image © j. paul getty trust via art art art artist

helen frankenthaler, recognized as one of the most influential american artists of the 20th century, has died on december 27 at the age of 83, in her home in darien, connecticut, USA, following a lengthy period of illness.

frankenthaler, born in 1928 in new york city, studied at the dalton school with mexican abstract painter rufino tamayo in new york city and attended university at bennington college in vermont where she studied with artist paul feeley, graduating in 1949. the first monumental exhibition of her career was in 1952 with the display of ‘mountains and sea’, a 7 x 10ft oil painting that seemed as if it were created as a watercolor piece. ‘mountains and sea’ introduced the use of turpentine-diluted oil-paint upon raw canvas, a technique known as ‘staining’, which is attributed to the color field school of painting of which frankenthaler was a founder.

as an abstract expressionist painter, frankenthaler was a major contributor to american post-war painting as well as one of the first artists to practice the color field school of painting. her large-scale canvases and easel-free technique were formed by gesture and dance, similar to the artistic process employed by abstract expressionist painter jackson pollack. frankenthaler’s work emphasized the flat surface, interrogating the nature of the viewer and his relationship to the artist, and focusing upon color rather than illusory depth in her body of work. 

read more in the obituary published by the new york times.

‘mountains and sea’, 1952 oil and charcoal on canvas 86 5/8 x 117 1/4 in. (220 x 297.8 cm) on extended loan to the national gallery of art, washington, d.c. image via about

‘desert pass’, 1976 acrylic on canvas 39 x 54 in (99.1 x 137.2 cm) smithsonian american art museum, bequest of edith s. and arthur j. levin 2005.5.32 image courtesy smithsonian american art museum photostream

‘nepenthe’, 1972 kathan brown (printer) color aquatint on paper plate 15 5/8 x 24 1/4 in. (39.8 x 61.7 cm) smithsonian american art museum purchase 1972.75 image courtesy smithsonian american art museum via my museum syndicate

‘may 26, backwards’, 1961 universal limited art editions (publisher) by bob blackburn (printer) color lithograph on paper sheet 31 1/8 x 22 1/2 in. (79 x 57.1 cm) smithsonian american art museum purchase 1967.32 image courtesy smithsonian american art museum via my museum syndicate

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
491,125 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample