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Women of Abstract Expressionism Artist Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler was born in 1928 and grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she was exposed to cubism under artist Paul Feeley. After college, Frankenthaler studied with artist Hans Hofmann and also entered into a relationship with art critic Clement Greenberg for several years.

Citing Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko as formative influences on her practice, she soon developed her revolutionary style of painting (called the soak-stain method) to create a prolific body of work. Using turpentine to dilute oil paints, Frankenthaler would then pour the thinned pigments to an unprimed and unstretched raw canvas.

Eventually, she switched to acrylic paint, but Frankenthaler’s sensuous and painterly staining technique led Morris Louis to adapt her process in what would become known as “Color Field” painting, and declare that Frankenthaler was the “bridge from Pollock to what was possible.”

Robin O’Brien is a 2016 intern in the department of learning and engagement. She also is a sales associate in The Shop.