Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Farewell, Helen Frankenthaler

In honor of Helen Frankenthaler's passing yesterday, I am repeating this 2007 post.

I love this 1984 photo of Helen Frankenthaler by Hans Namuth.  She's standing in her converted garage in Stamford, Connecticut (which she later tore down to build a new studio). This photo has a permanent place on my studio bulletin board. I can't say that I paid close attention to Frankenthaler's work until relatively recently except that every single time I walked by one of her pieces in a museum I would think, WOW! I really like that. That's great! Now that I've learned more, I admire both her and her work tremendously, appreciate the noble path she's blazed and feel a sort of kinship with her.

I quoted the following in the opening to my Landscape into Art blog but because it's relevant to the stream of this little blog series, I'm quoting it again. It's a good one!
"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." —Helen Frankenthaler (Barbara Rose, Frankenthaler (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1975, p. 85)

I add here another post from 2008 on the occasion of Frankenthaler's 80th birthday.

The last time I went poking around for an interview with Helen Frankenthaler, I could find nothing. Thanks to John Feldman at Hummingbird Films, we now have this marvelous video. And just in time for Helen's 80th birthday. It's today!

Frankenthaler's long time friend, Ann Freedman, is hosting a retrospective Frankenthaler at Eighty: Six Decades at her New York gallery Knoedler & Company. You can read an Arts Journal review about the show.

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that I claim a variety of influences from many disciplines. But now that I am painting full time, there's no getting around my affinity for Frankenthaler's images and aesthetics, her work, and the trails she's blazed artistically and through her living and words.

Listen to Susan Stamberg's 1988 NPR Profile on Helen Frankenthaler.


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