Elizabeth Smith on Helen Frankenthaler
WELCOME BACK TO SEASON 5 of the GWA PODCAST!
In episode 53 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the renowned curator and executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Elizabeth Smith, on the trailblazing and legendary HELEN FRANKENTHALER (1928–2011) !!!!
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With a career spanning six decades, Helen Frankenthaler has long been recognized 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 playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting.
Through her invention of the soak-stain technique, she expanded the possibilities of abstraction, while at times referencing figuration and landscape in highly personal ways. She produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound and continues to grow.
Born on December 12, 1928, and raised in New York. She attended the Dalton School, where she received her earliest art instruction from Rufino Tamayo. In 1949 she graduated from Bennington College, and by the early 1950s had entered into the Downtown New York Art Scene.
Exhibiting at the infamous Ninth Street Show in 1951 (alongside Krasner, Mitchell, and others), Frankenthaler's breakthrough came in 1952 when she created Mountains and Sea, her first soak-stain painting. She poured thinned paint directly onto raw, unprimed canvas laid on the studio floor, working from all sides to create floating fields of translucent colour. The work catalysed the Colour Field School and was particularly influential for artists of her generation.
In 1959, Frankenthaler had won first prize at the Premiere Biennale de Paris, by 1960 had her first major solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York, and by 1969 was one of four artists to represent America at the Venice Biennale. Oh! AND she had a Whitney Museum solo exhibition of the same year. She was invisible.
I LOVED recording this episode with Elizabeth Smith about the fascinating life and work of Frankenthaler. ENJOY!!!
Nature Abhors a Vacuum, 1973
Cloud Burst, 2002
Pink Lady, 1963
Mountains and Sea, 1952
Jacob's Ladder, 1957
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Laura Hendry
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield