Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011)
Born in Manhattan, New York, Frankenthaler became the leader of the Color Field painters in New York City, emerging in the 1950s under the influence of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Her work is a transition from Abstract Expressionism.
She was educated at New York’s Dalton School, and in high school studied with Rufino Tamayo and later with Hans Hofmann. She attended Bennington College. Her family vacationed in Maine where she learned to love open views of land and sea, subject matter and an attitude of expansiveness reflected in her canvases.
With a studio in New York, her mentor became art critic Clement Greenberg who introduced her to most of the prominent 1950s artists including Pollock and DeKooning, her inspirations for gestural technique, Action Painting. From 1958 to 1971, she was married to artist Robert Motherwell.
Her technique was novel. Rather than painting on a primed canvas, she poured paint over an unprimed surface that allowed the paint to soak into the canvas. This staining and the process involved became her trademark style, and a whole generation of artists, known as Color Field painters, followed her.