Two days after Christmas Helen Frankenthaler passed on. Until then I didn’t realize she lived in Connecticut not far from where I’ve lived for twenty years; it would have been fun to meet her. I grew up with her name because my mother, also an artist, spoke of her often. Usually my mother’s comments focused on the fact that only women married to well known artists themselves became recognized for their art. This holds true for Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, and Helen Frankenthaler. What other famous women artists are there from her generation? In Helen Frankenthaler’s case, being born to wealthy New York City parents didn’t hurt, either. My mother was unimpressed with Helen Frankenthaler’s work, and she was right that her own often excelled it, but for the pesky problem of not being married in the art world nor being independently wealthy.
So when I heard of her tacit rival’s passing, I checked the above book out from the library and have been contemplating this famous artist’s legacy since. Below are photos I took of her work as shown in this book. You can see more of her body of work here.
Here is just a start of what this book claims:
“Her best pictures keep a lively balance between spontaneity and willfulness, between intuition and inspired calculation. Each radiant color seems to have found its own inevitable shape by a particular intelligence. Her pictures are always declaratively flat, but imply the possibility of infinite space. She has painted some of the most lyrical and frankly beautiful pictures in the history of recent art…”
You also may wish to scroll through the photos here of her in the process of working. It makes me drool to have enough canvas to stand on and so much paint you can pour it. I also salivate at her having the opportunity for instruction with Hans Hoffmann, one of my favorite artists!
Like my mother, I don’t find her work more remarkable than many whose names will probably always remain unknown, but looking at these images makes me want to paint! I suppose that makes them evocative? (The bottom one is my favorite.)
Let me know what you think: are these worthy of fame and endless recognition?