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The Speed Art Museum
  Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture

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Helen Frankenthaler (American, born 1928)
Situation, 1972, acrylic on canvas.
Purchased with funds from the New Art Collectors
and the National Endowment for the Arts 1972.42.1

As a young artist Helen Frankenthaler was introduced to the Abstract Expressionists by the art critic Clement Greenberg. Upon his recommendation she studied with Robert Motherwell and was inspired by the work of Jackson Pollock. She developed a unique “soak-stain” technique of painting directly on unprepared canvas with heavily diluted paint so that the material absorbs the color. This approach gives her paintings the look of watercolors even though they are painted in acrylic paint. Working with large canvases laid on the floor, she directs the flow of pigment to create large areas of color. This technique was adopted by other artists and launched a second generation of Abstract Expressionism known as Color Field painting. In Situation, Frankenthaler mixes this technique with painted lines and large areas of raw canvas to create an abstract composition that suggests a landscape.




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