Gagosian is pleased to present its first exhibition of Helen Frankenthaler’s work organized in collaboration with the newly established Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. This follows the gallery’s critically acclaimed 2013 exhibition, Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959, which was organized with the artist’s estate.
The exhibition focuses on a brief but critical period in Frankenthaler’s career—in 1962 and 1963—when she “composed with color” rather than with line, resulting in the freer compositions that came to exemplify her long and prolific career. Transitioning from the sparer, more graphic works of 1960 and 1961, Frankenthaler made paintings that more readily filled the space of the canvas, moving toward what critic B. H. Friedman described as the “total color image” that would become a hallmark of her later work. Included in the exhibition are Cloud Bank, Hommage à M.L., and Cool Summer (all 1962), in which she employed a limited number of linear elements, linking them to her innovative stain paintings of the 1950s while marking a new direction with the use of spreading areas of color and a reassessment of the properties of painting materials.
Three paintings in the exhibition—Filter, Gulf Stream, and Moat (all 1963)—belong to a series of works that include imprints of the floorboards of Frankenthaler’s studio. As she recalled of this technique, “I did a whole series of pictures . . . that I reversed; in other words they stained through and then I worked on them again from the other side.” During this period, Frankenthaler also began experimenting with acrylic paint, sometimes employing both acrylic and oil in a single canvas. Gulf Stream, one example of this method, features delicately layered passages of oil paint surrounded by denser expanses of vivid acrylic paint, a framing device that she would continue to explore the following year.
The culmination of Frankenthaler’s experimentation with acrylic paint is represented by two large-scale paintings, Pink Lady and Sun Shapes (both 1963). With their large expanses of intense hues that nearly fill the canvas, both paintings anticipate the development of her abstract vocabulary throughout the remaining years of the 1960s.
The exhibition, curated by John Elderfield, is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an introductory essay by Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. The essay provides an in-depth examination of Frankenthaler’s development during this critical two-year period and places these works within the context of American art in the early 1960s.
From the Quarterly
John Elderfield and Elizabeth Smith
John Elderfield and Elizabeth Smith discuss the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler on the occasion of Helen Frankenthaler: Composing with Color, Paintings 1962–1963.
Helen and High Water
John Elderfield shares part of his lecture, prepared on the occasion of the exhibition Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown.
Helen Frankenthaler at the Clark Art Institute
Phyllis Tuchman on the critical role of scale in Frankenthaler’s art practice.
John Elderfield and Lauren Mahony discuss Helen Frankenthaler and her work from 1959 to 1962.
Helen Frankenthaler: Line into Color, Color into line
To mark the occasion of the exhibition Line into Color, Color into Line: Helen Frankenthaler, Paintings, 1962–1987, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and Gagosian produced a video of rare archival footage of Frankenthaler on the subject of line and color.
After Frankenthaler: An Interview with Katy Siegel
Art historian Katy Siegel discusses her recent exhibition at the Rose Art Museum and publication “The heroine Paint”: After Frankenthaler with Gagosian’s Alison McDonald.
After Abstract Expressionism, 1959–1962
June 9–September 16, 2017
In homage to G. Bataille
June 1–July 28, 2018
Line into Color, Color into Line
Helen Frankenthaler, Paintings, 1962–1987
September 16–October 29, 2016
Chamberlain, Frankenthaler, Heizer, Kiefer, Stella
August 21–October 3, 2015
West 21st Street, New York