Known for her distinctive color stains and large expressionistic works, Helen Frankenthaler made a name for herself in the early fifties when she appropriated Jackson Pollock’s pouring technique by adding turpentine to oil paint and letting the concoction fill her canvases with beautiful variations of colors, which, instead of laying on top of, soaked and dyed the fabric. Today (September 11th), the Gagosian gallery premiers their “Helen Frankenthaler: Composing with Color” exhibition.
The exhibition focuses on a brief but critical period in Frankenthaler’s career during 1962–63, 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 1960–61, 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.