Helen Frankenthaler (American, b.1928) is regarded as one of the major painters of postwar American Abstract Expressionism. Born into a Jewish family in New York City, Frankenthaler studied art first at the Dalton School in New York, and then at Bennington College in Vermont. In the 1950s, Frankenthaler was inspired by American Abstract Expressionism, especially by the work of Jackson Pollock. She began to experiment with pouring paint directly onto canvas, but, unlike Pollock, Frankenthaler used thinned paint on untreated canvases, creating the effect of a large watercolor; this revolutionary technique launched the second generation of the Color Field school of painting.

Even though her poured works appear nonrepresentational, they are often based on real or imaginary landscapes. In addition to her two-dimensional work, Frankenthaler produced welded steel sculptures and explored ceramics, prints, and illustrated books. From the mid-1980s on, she also worked as set and costume designer for productions by England''''s Royal Ballet. Frankenthaler participated in the documenta II in Kassel and has held numerous international exhibitions, including important retrospectives at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Frankenthaler has taught at New York University, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, and was married to American painter Robert Motherwell until 1971. She died in 2011 after a long disease.

Timeline

1928
Born in New York, USA
1945
Graduated from The Dalton School, New York, USA
1946
Art Students League, New York, USA
1945–1949
BA Bennington College, Bennington, USA
2011
Died in Darien, USA

Exhibitions

2008
Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976, The Jewish Museum, New York, USA
2007
Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, Bennington, USA (solo)
2005–2006
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia (solo)
2003
Museum of Contemporary, North Miami, USA (solo)
2002
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, USA (solo)
1999
Neuberger Museum of Art, State University of New York, Purchase, USA (solo)
1998
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (solo)
Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, USA (solo)
1993
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (solo)
1989
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, USA (solo)
1985
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (solo)
1981
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, USA (solo)
1975
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (solo)
1969
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (solo)
1964
Post-Painterly Abstraction, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, USA
1961
American Abstract Expressionists and Imagists, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA
1960
The Jewish Museum, New York, USA (solo)
1958
Nature in Abstraction: The Relation of Abstract Painting and Sculpture to Nature in Twentieth-Century American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
1957
Artists of the New York School Second Generation, The Jewish Museum, New York, USA
1951
9th Street: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 60th East 9th Street, New York, USA
1950
Fifteen Unknowns Selected by Artists of the Kootz Gallery, Kootz Gallery, New York, USA

Public Collections

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria
Tate Gallery, London, UK
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO