Classic Artist of the Week #11 - Helen Frankenthaler

If abstract expressionists were drinks, Motherwell would be scotch, Pollock moonshine, Rothko lager and Frankenthaler a tequila sunrise cocktail. Smooth, light, refreshing, tasty and girly, but men like them too (they're just too afraid of being spotted).

She was born in 1928 in a rich Manhattan family. She had attended Dalton School and had her first exhibition at 24 and from there on she continued to produce series of ever-changing works that shaped the next generations of painters for the next sixty years. Influenced by large-scale projects of Pollock and rich, powerful colours of Hofmann, Frankenthaler went to discover her own style.

Now a bit of theory for those unfamiliar with painting - every canvas must be initially coated in some kind of protective surface so the paint doesn't soak in it. The innovation of Helen was not doing it. She let her heavily turpentine-diluted oil paint soak in the linen, spilling around and creating watercolour-like effects. Combined with the large size of the frame, these ponds of paint have a big impact. But unlike enchanting, heavy pieces of Rothko, who also used size as a form, Frankenthaler's works are simpler and calmer.

Something between a child's drawing and O'Keefe's flowers, her paintings are simple, colourful and soothing. There are no existential dilemmas there - just beauty, the way she saw it and the way she wanted us to see it - everywhere.

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