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Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928-2011)
Also known as: Motherwell, Mrs. Robert BurnsBirth Place: New York City (New York state, United States)
Helen Frankenthaler was an abstract painter, who invented the technique of mixing turpentine with oil paints to create a staining effect. Her works were widely exhibited over 6 separate decades, and she was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2001. She was most known for her 1952 painting Mountains and Sea, which is displayed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Frankenthaler's soak-stain technique was an innovation that created large areas of color, which created a misty effect that suited her desires to create images of landscapes. Other Abstract artists at the time tended to focus on conceptual paintings rather than attempts to create natural images in an abstract manner.
Later in her career, Frankenthaler experimented with other media, using acrylic paints in place of the oil paints she had favored before. She also began making woodcuts for printmaking, trying to capture the effect of the pouring technique she used earlier on.
Her life in New York was widely known at the time. Her marriage with Robert Motherwell led to the pair hosting lavish parties, leading to them to be called “the golden couple.” After their divorce in 1971, she later married Stephen DuBrul Jr. Her parents were both intellectual and encouraged all of their daughters to seek out their own careers.
Helen Frankenthaler passed away on December 27th, 2011. Her lifelong painting career produced many works of art that are still displayed around the world today. Her influence on the world of art with her spontaneous, open style can still be seen today.
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