1928 – 2011
Born in Manhattan, Helen Frankenthaler became the leader of the Color Field painters in New York City and also a very important artist associated with Abstract Expressionism, emerging in the 1950’s under the influence of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Arshille Gorky. Rather than painting on a primed canvas, Frankenthaler’s technique involved pouring diluted oil paint over an unprimed canvas, allowing the paint to soak into the surface in pools and veils of color, reminiscent of landscapes, but certainly abstract. She developed and explored this technique as her career progressed.
Frankenthaler was educated at New York’s Dalton School, and in high school studied with Rufino Tamayo and later with Hans Hofmann. While working in New York, with her own studio, her mentor became art critic Clement Greenberg who introduced her to the most of the prominent 1950’s artists, including Pollock and de Kooning. From 1958 to 1971, she was married to artist Robert Motherwell. She is widely considered the most prominent of the Color Field painters, as well as one of the most influential female American artists.