Helen FRANKENTHALER (New York 1928 - Darien 2011)
Acrylic on light brown paper.
Signed Frankenthaler in pencil at the lower right.
509 x 667 mm. (200 x 26 1/4 in.)
Although best known and highly regarded as a colourist, Frankenthaler has always stressed the primacy of drawing in her work. As she has stated, ‘For me, as a picture develops, color always comes out of drawing. I never start out only with color.’ Works on paper were an important part of Frankenthaler’s oeuvre throughout her career, and their significance grew in particular from the late 1970s onwards. Indeed, between 1992 and 2002 she worked almost exclusively on paper, and produced very few paintings. As the artist has noted, ‘Working on paper can even replace working on canvas for me, for periods of time…more and more, paper is painting.’
As Karen Wilkin has written of Frankenthaler, ‘throughout her long career, she has worked on paper with the same seriousness that she brings to her large-scale paintings, producing an impressive body of watercolors, gouaches, and mixed media works whose ambition, invention, and accomplishment are in no way inferior to that of her canvases. Each medium elicits different responses from Frankenthaler, yet all of her diverse efforts – whatever their materials, scale or process – depend for their impact on her distinctive handwriting, her faultless sense of tone and scale, and above all, her command of color. But of all of her investigations of various media, Frankenthaler’s works on paper enter into the most intimate dialogue with her canvases…Frankenthaler’s works on paper are never preparations for canvases but represent a parallel exploration; each line of enquiry informs the other.’
The present large sheet was drawn in 1992. Speaking in 2000, on the occasion of an exhibition of her works on paper from the decade of the 1990s, Frankenthaler has said that ‘I get lost, whatever medium I’m working in – painting, sculpture, works on paper, graphics…for the time I am totally into creating a work. I am obsessed and the energy flows, the adrenalin flows, the ideas flow. I can’t work fast enough and that’s great. As I said before, to push is hell…I know when I started all these works on paper not too long ago, the first few felt slow and unresolved and then suddenly something clicked and I couldn’t get them out fast enough and I wanted more and more paper. Every so often I’d tear one up and my studio assistant would tremble but that’s the way it goes.’
Knoedler & Company, New York
Private collection, New Hampshire
James Reinish and Associates, New York
Loretta Howard Gallery, New York
Del Deo & Barzune, New York
Acquired from them in 2013 by William Louis-Dreyfus, Mount Kisco
The Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection.