by Gregg Chadwick
Mountains and Sea
7' 2 5/8" x 9' 9 1/4" oil on canvas 1952
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
"Fashion and money, fame and power politics have played a part in all art worlds. You've just got to plug away.... I see a revival of the meaning of the word "quality"---a search for truth and beauty in lieu of stock certificates. People are most interested in what's real, what endures."
- Helen Frankenthaler (From a Conversation With Lee Rosenbaum)
Helen Frankenthaler's painting Mountains and Sea opened a painterly universe. She poured, dripped, and floated thinned oil paint directly onto an unprimed canvas, creating a stained surface in which the pigment spread into and throughout the canvas fibers. The painting is mesmerizing, like the open sea is mesmerizing. Color beckons almost like song. As viewers we take the role of Odysseus, some will remain tied to a mast - fighting the beauty and lyricism. Others, myself included, let Helen Frankenthaler's hand lead us into the unknown.
She will be sorely missed.
Helen Frankenthaler Painting
From a Series of Photographs by Ernst Haas Taken in 1969
Helen Frankenthaler Amidst Her Art in 1956
Photographer: Gordon Parks for LIFE Magazine
A Search for Truth and Beauty by Lee Rosenbaum
Helen Frankenthaler dies at 83; abstract painter