Helen Frankenthaler: Paintings

4th March - 30th March 2014

Helen Frankenthaler, Bella Donna, 1987, Acrylic on canvas, 243.8 x 198.1  cms (96 x 78  ins).


“She was a bridge between Pollock and what was possible.” 

 - Morris Louis

Bernard Jacobson is please to announce the exhibition:

Helen Frankenthaler: Paintings, in the New York gallery from March 4th to April 30th, 2014.

Helen Frankenthaler was an extraordinary force.  At a time when women artists scarcely held a position in the Abstract Expressionist milieu, she quietly claimed the cutting edge for a female painter. Her work established a new aesthetic that took a step away from the grand standing of gestural painting to a cooler more contemplative approach. Sanctioned by Clement Greenberg as “post painterly abstraction,” the movement was later termed “color field”.  

Frankenthaler’s innovative technique used thinned out washes of pigment and turpentine that were poured onto the flat replique rolex raw canvas so that the paint soaked into the fiber, staining it.  Her method emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, creating open light filled luminous structures.

Allowing each work to stand as an individual investigation, Frankenthaler explored various themes. In the current exhibition three large paintings from the 1980’s testify to the fecundity of her approach.

That she was influenced by landscape is clear in the painting, “Quattrocento.” Lush vibrant greens merge with subtle mauves. The translucent quality of the paint is conducive to the quietness of this monumental work.  In “Bella Donna,” a reference perhaps to her Mother’s name and the plant, green is again the dominant hue, but the pigment is denser and the alignment vertical, suggestive of a more rigorous source for this abstract design.  In the painting  “For Chekhov,” it is hard not to see a dying seagull in the foreground. The surrounding elements have the feeling of a theatrical set, arches framing the action center stage.

In another grouping within the exhibition are four ceramic tile paintings. They are all titled, “Thanksgiving Day” and are part of a group that were created during one weekend in 1973 while visiting a ceramic studio in Upstate New York. Frankenthaler produced around one hundred tiles that weekend, each piece the same size and shape, (13 ½ x 17 ½ inches) but each a unique creation.

In this medium Frankenthaler allowed the glaze to run and bleed much as she might have allowed paint to flow on a canvas. Tighter horizontal lines frame the looser movement creating tension and dialogue.

Helen Frankenthaler was born in New York City on December 12, 1928. She died at her home in Darien, Connecticut on December 27th, 2011. She has been honored with retrospective exhibitions at the Jewish Museum, New York, in 1960; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1969; the Solomon R, Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1985 (works on paper); and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1989. Her awards and honorary degrees are too numerous to include here.

Notes to Editors

Bernard Jacobson Gallery was founded in 1969, publishing and distributing prints by artists including Robyn Denny, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin, Leon Kossoff, Henry Moore, Richard Smith, Ed Ruscha and William Tillyer. By the mid 1970s, having established himself as one of the major dealers in the international print boom, Jacobson began to show paintings and sculpture. The early 1980s saw the gallery open branches in Los Angeles and New York, expanding the range of international artists to include West Coast American artists such as Joe Goode and Larry Bell as well as modern British masters such as David Bomberg, Ivon Hitchens, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland. From 1997, the gallery moved more firmly into American and international art, with shows of artists such as Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons and Frank Stella. Recently, the gallery has held shows by the American artists Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, while European painters include Bram Bogart and replica watches Pierre Soulages and British artists William Tillyer, Bruce McLean and Marc Vaux.

In 2011 the gallery opened a new space in New York on East 71st Street with an inaugural exhibition entitled 60 Years of British Art followed by 21 Americans, the latter showing work by major American artists including Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. Bernard Jacobson Gallery also has a strong presence at major international art fairs participating at The Armory Show, New York; Expo Chicago; Frieze Masters, London; and the prestigious Art Basel fairs in Hong Kong, Basel and Miami Beach.