Artist Helen Frankenthaler: ahead of her time

Artist Helen Frankenthaler: ahead of her time

I'd like to talk about one of the women artists whose work inspires me. One of the biggest rock stars in my world is the late Helen Frankenthaler (1928 - 2011).

Helen’s work traces back to the mid 90's; she was an experienced student of Cupid and later her lessons would be taught at Dalton school. She then attended Bennington College in her teen years. After she had graduated from Bennington she had moved back to New York where she rented out studio spaces and embarked on her journey as an artist. During this chapter in life she met mentors like Jackson Pollock and a long time friend David Smith. She had eventually departed from the virginity of cubism and joined A New York school that challenged her way of thinking about art; she took painting from the walls to the floor. In some videos you can see Helen splash and move colors in new ways, allowing her to work from all sides of the canvas.

When I see her work I feel freedom and emotions based on the colors she uses. They go from a slight darker tone to a lighter tone. Her work extends beyond the canvas and enables viewers to paint their own version in their minds. I think that comes from the flow and movement she creates across her pieces and how she moves around the canvas. “Jacob's Ladder” (1957, image below) is a great example of this.

Her colors rise up among all the energetic shapes and release us into an open space. These colors are of the same value like the reds, greens, yellows and the blues. Frankenthaler had a way of diluting her paint so it could absorb into the canvas. There is so much calmness in this piece that allows you to dive into the painting. 

Jacob's Ladder, 1957, by Helen Frankenthaler from

This sense of absolute absorption is one of the reasons I feel so inspired by her body of work. I truly feel as though I can understand her feelings through her creations.


Header image: Autre Magazine, Helen Frankenthaler, New York City, 1974. Photograph by Alexander Liberman
Sources: and

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    1 comment

    Helen was a great abstract artist I love.

    Michael Chung

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