Field of colour

September 13, 2017

I like this photograph of abstract expressionist painter, Helen Frankenthaler –– there’s something about her look, the pose, that draws you in. She has an air of Princess Margaret, doesn’t she? And here, too. The former was taken by Alexander Liberman, in 1964 during her marriage to fellow painter, Robert Motherwell. Frankenthaler invented the “soak-stain” technique, which involved pouring turpentine-thinned paint onto an un-primed canvas and completely soaking through the canvas to create luminous color washes. She was a pioneer among the colour field painters, and has long been acknowledged as one of the great American artists of the 20th Century. According to her New York Times obituary, Helen was interested in art from early childhood, “when she would dribble nail polish into a sink full of water to watch the color flow.” With those beautiful expanses of colour-rich acrylic, it’s her paintings from the early to mid 60s that are my favourites.

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