Frankenthaler, Helen


Frankenthaler, Helen

biographical name

(born Dec. 12, 1928, New York, N.Y., U.S.) U.S. painter. She studied with Rufino Tamayo in high school and at Bennington College, then returned to her native New York City and joined the “second generation” of Abstract Expressionists. Influenced by Jackson Pollock and Arshile Gorky, she developed a style featuring abstract colour combinations within large expanses of bare canvas. She perfected the technique of colour staining, producing diaphanous colour by thinning the oils and letting them soak into the unprimed canvas. In the 1960s she began to use acrylic paints. Though abstract, many of her paintings (e.g., Ocean Desert, 1975) evoke landscapes and are noted for their lyricism. Her work influenced the colour-field painters Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. She was married to Robert Motherwell from 1958 to 1971.

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