Gray Plateau

by Frankenthaler, Helen (American, 1928-2011)
Categorized in Painting

The youngest daughter of a New York State Supreme Court Justice, Helen made her own mark in the world early in her career as a painter. Influenced by the Abstract Expressionists, Helen experimented with techniques of staining a canvas after watching Jackson Pollock using his drip method. In 1952 she made her breakthrough into the art world when she painted Mountains and Sea. In this painting she used her own method of staining an unprimed canvas with paint. In 1958 she married fellow Abstract Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell but the marriage ended in 1971. She made sets and costumes for the ballet in the past and taught art over the years. Today she is recognized as one of the most important female artists of the second half of the twentieth century. This painting by Frankenthaler contains the atmospheric quality of her stained works on canvas. Her technique of brushing, blotting, and rubbing paint on unprimed canvas permitted her to achieve this atmospheric and lyrical quality in her work. Rather than sitting on top of the canvas, the paint is in the raw canvas and lays flat. Gray Plateau was exhibited at the opening of the Pompidou Center in Paris in 1977.

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