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December 12: Helen Frankenthaler

helenAbstract painter Helen Frankenthaler, who was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 2001, was born to a wealthy German-Jewish family in Manhattan on this date in 1928. Championed early in her career by Clement Greenberg, Frankenthaler developed a staining method that involved soaking canvases in color by pouring turpentine-thinned paint onto them. This “Color Field” method, according to New York Times obituary writer Grace Glueck, “was credited with releasing color from the gestural approach and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.” The technique began with her 1952 painting, “Mountains and Sea,” inspired by a trip to Nova Scotia. Her first major retrospective was at the Jewish Museum in 1960, and her reputation was cemented by a retrospective at the Whitney nine years later. Frankenthaler was also admired for her woodcuts. She died at 83 in 2011.

“The landscapes were in my arms as I did it.” —Helen Frankenthaler

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Comments (3)

  1. Is there a way to make Jewdayo more contemporaneous with daily events. A la Snowden being a second to the Times Man of The year.

    • Albeit not exactly contemporous but I gleaned a few things in my youth from the Art Students League in NY, both the meaning and use of colors and a method , then called silly by making clouds or a sky on canvas by pouring paint thinner over applied colors, then as a autobodyman /painter using thinners over colors to achieve a marblized effect on a car finish. Who knew a Yiddisha Maidela got famous using that method.

  2. My granddaughter, Olivia, age 7, loves hearing me read a nightly story from Larry’s NEW book, “The Tree Jumped, the River Ran Backwards.”
    She loved the first story’s “descriptive words”–HER WORDS—- and THE twist at the end. She acted out parts of the story. In the middle of it she got four different coins from her bedroom (I guess we Jews aren’t the only ones who have different denominations) and guessed the real meaning of the “giving power” of money when used for good purpose. She showed that by rolling over a coin to me for “reading the great story’ I said that wasn’t necessary. I read it for the love of it and for her. More stories and reports on them to come.

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