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Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler was born on December12, 1928 in New York City. Early on, she studied under the tutelage of Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo at the Dalton School in New York. She received her Bachelor degree from Bennington College in 1948, and began her extensive travels. Frankenthaler is a main figure in developing color-field abstraction with her stain techniques, influenced by the methods of Jackson Pollock, whose abstract works were emulated less by emerging artists than Willem de Kooning, who used of thick textures and aggressive brushwork. Frankenthaler’s work explores a delicate color sensibility, and emphasizes the notion of beauty above everything else. Though her work never stagnated in one form entirely, Frankenthaler’s concern for the capture of emotion with color while avoiding the use of figures or scenes has given her a place as one of contemporary art’s most important figures.

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Helen Frankenthaler and James Schuyler: A Correspondence

In bohemian postwar Manhattan, poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch) naturally gravitated to painters (Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers) whose work they appreciated on its own terms. Certain poets were lauded for their perceptive, unbiased eye; some painters instinctively sensed a resonant poem. Painter Helen Frankenthaler and poet James Schuyler had such a mutual appreciation. Their run-in during the 1954 Venice Biennale was memorable enough to open Schuyler’s poem “Torcello” (they must have met previously to have recognized each other, though it is unclear when). In any case, they kept circling: Schuyler reviewed Frankenthaler’s shows at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1957 and at the André Emmerich Gallery in 1960.