29th Oct, 2019 12:00 EST

Modern & Contemporary Art

 
  Lot 52
 
Lot 52 - Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011)

52

Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011)
Red Hot

Signed bottom right, acrylic on paper.
Executed in 2002.
44 1/8 x 55 1/4 in. (112.1 x 140.3cm)

Provenance: Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
Private Collection, Virginia Beach, Virginia (acquired directly from the above in 2008).
By family descent.
Private Collection, La Jolla, California.
EXHIBITED:
"Frankenthaler: Paintings on Paper (1949 - 2002)," Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida, February 14 - June 8, 2008; also traveled to The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, August 13 - October 26, 2003, checklist no. 71, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue.

Sold for $137,500
Estimated at $120,000 - $180,000


 

Signed bottom right, acrylic on paper.
Executed in 2002.
44 1/8 x 55 1/4 in. (112.1 x 140.3cm)

Provenance: Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, United Kingdom.
Private Collection, Virginia Beach, Virginia (acquired directly from the above in 2008).
By family descent.
Private Collection, La Jolla, California.
EXHIBITED:
"Frankenthaler: Paintings on Paper (1949 - 2002)," Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida, February 14 - June 8, 2008; also traveled to The Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, August 13 - October 26, 2003, checklist no. 71, illustrated in the exhibition catalogue.

Throughout her career, Helen Frankenthaler blurred the boundaries of painting, drawing, and watercolor with her persistent experimentations in abstraction. She began her career in an Abstract Expressionist mode but quickly discovered her own unique style in pouring thinned pigments directly onto unprimed canvas laid out on the floor. The Color Field works that followed embodied an element of chance as well as a richness of color saturation that added a new facet to mid-century abstraction. Her influence on other artists in this direction, particularly Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, originated with her noteworthy Mountains and Sea painting of 1952 and her association with the critic Clement Greenberg. Her "soak-stain" technique effectively merged pigment and canvas, underscoring the flat physicality of the canvas and eliminating pictorial space, as Greenberg championed.

Although Frankenthaler challenged the traditional relationship of figure and ground, she did not completely do away with allusions to figuration, landscape, and nature. In Red Hot, 2002, the artist soaks paper with blood-red acrylic paint, later adding horizontal elements of deep oranges, purples, and reds in the center of the red field. Evoking a late summer sunset or a gash in the skin, the textured line bisects the picture plane and allows the viewer an enticing entry point. In the 1970s Frankenthaler famously stated that "paper is painting," and from 1992-2002 she painted exclusively on paper in her mature style.(1) Red Hot comes at the end of this prolific period where she employs the properties of paper itself as her medium.


1: The Artist as quoted in: Interview with Eleanor Munro (1979), as quoted in Robert S. Mattison, Helen Frankenthaler: Paper is Painting, exh. cat, London: Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 2010, p. 9.

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Helen Frankenthaler

Born in New York City in 1928, Helen Frankenthaler came to be one of the most prominent female artists of the second half of the 20thcentury. She studied at Bennington College and was a student of famed artists Rufino Tamayo and Hans Hoffman, and went on to be a leading figure of New York’s Color Field painters; later in life, she settled in Darien, Connecticut, where she established ahome and studio.Frankenthaler’s abstract paintings and prints are very popular with Freeman’s buyers, given her prominent status as one of the premier female artists of the 20thcentury. Her acrylic on canvas Cinquecentoachieved a remarkable $598,000 in 2018, surpassing its pre-sale high estimate; Red Hotsold for $137,500 in 2019. Her highly decorative color woodcut and pochoir prints from Tales of Genjisold well above their estimates ($75,000 and $43,750, both in 2017). Frankenthaler’s distinctive paintings rendered in both acrylic and oil are in high market demand, and Freeman’s maintains a strong track record in their auction performance.Frankenthaler’s produced her iconic “soak-stain” paintings by pouring paint on unprimed canvas, often in a large format, producing what she called “a really good picture...as if it’s happened at once.” She is credited with helping to bridge the divide between two major art movementsAbstract Expressionism and Color Field paintingan accomplishment described by the artist Morris Louis as “a bridge from Pollock to what is possible.” Her style evolved from centered compositions to the use of more organic forms, then finally on to more symmetrical paintings. Frankenthaler was a prolific printmaker, sculptor, and ceramicist in addition to a masterful painter; her works have been featured in numerous major museum exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Jewish Museum, among others.