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Helen Frankenthaler (1928 – 2011)


American post-painterly abstraction artist.
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Helen Frankenthaler
I still, when I judge my own pictures (either while I’m working or after I think it’s finished) determine if they work in a certain kind of space through shape or color. I think all totally abstract pictures – the best ones that really come off – Newman, Pollock, Noland – have tremendous space; perspective space despite the emphasis on flat surface. For example, in Noland a band of yellow in relation to a band of blue and one of orange can move in depth although they are married to the surface. This has become a familiar explanation, but few people really see and feel it that way... ...in my work, because of color and shape a lot is read in the landscape sense…
Frankenthaler quotes
I’ve explored a variety of directions and themes over the years. But I think in my painting you can see the signature of one artist, the work of one wrist.
Frankenthaler
A really good picture looks as if it's happened at once. It's an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked, and you can read in it—well, she did this and then she did that, and then she did that—there is something in it that has not got to do with beautiful art to me. And I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute.




Frankenthaler Helen quotes
It was as if I suddenly went to a foreign country but didn’t know the language, but had read enough and had a passionate interest, and was eager to live there… …and master the language. (reacting on Pollocks 'Black and White'’ paintings show she saw in 1951 for the first time ed.)
Frankenthaler Helen
I think today beautiful, which is always a tricky word, but now it's become an incendiary word, because in many ways today beauty is obsolete and not the main concern of art. And you can't prove beauty, it's there as a fact.. and you know it, and you feel it, and it's real. But you can't say to somebody.. this has it. I might be able to say it and others might recognize it. But it gives no specific message, other than itself, which in turn should be able to move you in to some sort of truth and insight, and something beyond art. I mean initially it's pleasure that grows. But it isn't just the shock of a message that you can have and dismiss. Once you've had it, it's over.
Helen Frankenthaler quotes
Consciously and unconsciously the artist allows what must happen to happen.
Helen Frankenthaler
It was all there. I wanted to live in this land. I had to live there, and master the language.
Frankenthaler Helen quotes
I have always been concerned with painting that simultaneously insists on a flat surface and then denies it.
Frankenthaler
I had no desire to copy Pollock. I didn’t want to take a stick and dip it in a can of enamel (paint, ed.) I needed something more liquid, watery, thinner. All my life, I have been drawn to water and translucency. I love the water; I love to swim, to watch changing seascapes. One of my favorite childhood games was to fill a sink with water and punt nail polish into to see what happened when the colors burst up the surface, merging into each other as floating, changing shapes.
Frankenthaler Helen
I frequently leave areas of raw, unprimed canvas unpainted (as in her painting Chairman of the Board, 1971, fh… …That ‘negative’ space has just as active a role as the ‘positive’ painted space. The negative spaces maintain shapes of their own and are not empty.
Helen Frankenthaler
Betty and her gallery helped construct the center of the art world. She was one of the last of her breed.




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