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Imagining Landscapes: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler

Publisher: Rizzoli International Publications
Number of pages: 88
Dimensions: 321 x 273 mm
ISBN: 9780847871131

Helen Frankenthaler | Imagining Landscapes 1952-1976

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) has long been recognised as one of the great American artists of the twentieth century. A member of the second generation of postwar American abstract painters, she is widely credited with expanding the possibilities of abstraction through her invention of the soak-stain technique, while at times referencing figuration and landscape in highly personal ways. This volume explores references to landscape in Frankenthaler’s paintings over a period spanning more than two decades, beginning in 1952, just prior to her breakthrough to stain painting. Focusing on fourteen works, it examines an extraordinary variety of gesture, from linear drawing to areas of lush, stained colour and flatter, more opaque applications of paint. An essay by art historian Robert Slifkin considers the complex evocations of space in Frankenthaler’s works of this period. Richly illustrated with full-colour plates, details, and documentary photographs, Imagining Landscapes offers a close and detailed look at the artist’s approach to painting over this twenty-five-year period.

Helen Frankenthaler | Imagining Landscapes 1952-1976

“I think when you’re really painting, involved in a painting, what goes on in the art world doesn’t matter.” Helen Frankenthaler

Imagining Landscapes: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952–1976, an exhibition of thirteen paintings from the collection of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, several of which have never been exhibited before.

The references to landscape that are inherent in these paintings shift between subtle and explicit, as critic E. C. Goossen observed in 1958. All are characterised by an extraordinary variety of line and color. The earliest of them—painted in 1952, before Frankenthaler’s breakthrough development of soak-stain painting later that year with Mountains and Sea—is the work of an already mature artist: an invented panorama with suggestions of palm fronds and mountain peaks. The next belongs to a small group of canvases with drawn forms that Frankenthaler painted on her honeymoon with Robert Motherwell in the southwest of France. And four canvases from 1961—FableBeach SceneSquare Figure, and After Rubens—show her simplifying her drawing and making it more calligraphic, even as she continued to create figural as well as landscape references.

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