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American | Abstract Expressionism, Color Field

b. 1928

Helen Frankenthaler, a New York based American abstract expressionist painter, left a lasting legacy in the history of post-war American painting. Born in Manhattan to a cultured and progressive Jewish intellectual family, she studied at the Dalton School under supervision of muralist Rufino Tamayo and at Bennington College in Vermont under supervision of Paul Feeley who influenced her early cubist-derived style.

Her work was included in Post-Painterly Abstraction exhibition in 1964, which introduced a newer generation of abstract painting, known as Color Field. Her invention of the soak-stain technique of pouring thinned pigment directly onto the canvas opened new possibilities of abstraction.

Frankenthaler received numerous awards, including first prize at the Première Biennale de Paris (1959), Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement (1994), and National Medal of Arts (2001).

Frankenthaler died on December 27, 2011 at the age 83 in Darien, Connecticut, following a long and undisclosed illness.

Her work is displayed in the The Jewish Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Naples Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art, Florida.

Helen Frankenthaler

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