Skip to main content

Helen Frankenthaler

Artist
Yousuf Karsh, 23 Dec 1908 - 13 Jul 2002
Sitter
Helen Frankenthaler, 12 Dec 1928 - 27 Dec 2011
Date
1991
Type
Photograph
Medium
Chromogenic print
Dimensions
Image: 34 x 26.5 cm (13 3/8 x 10 7/16")
Sheet: 35.4 x 27.8 cm (13 15/16 x 10 15/16")
Mount: 40.7 x 33 cm (16 x 13")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Estrellita Karsh in memory of Yousuf Karsh
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of Yousuf Karsh
Object number
NPG.2012.77.29
Exhibition Label
At the beginning of the 1950s, artist Helen Frankenthaler drew inspiration from Jackson Pollock’s radical drip painting technique to develop her own unorthodox mode of applying paint to canvas. Like Pollock, she began by spreading a sheet of unprimed cotton duck on the floor of her studio. But instead of dripping or flinging paint across its surface, she thinned her pigments to create washes that soaked into the canvas and formed translucent veils and glowing blocks of color. Frankenthaler’s first work to feature this technique—Mountains and Sea (1952)—was a revelation for the Washington-based painter Morris Louis, who later described it as “the bridge between Pollock and what was possible.” Those who followed Frankenthaler’s lead and adopted her soak-stain technique became part of the emerging movement known as color field painting, which flourished into the 1960s. Speaking of her work Frankenthaler observed, “Every canvas is a journey all its own.”
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection