Saturday, November 08, 2008

Frankenthaler At Eighty

Frankenthaler At Eighty: Six Decades opened this week at Knoedler & Company on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, celebrating the artist's eightieth birthday and her long career as one of America's most important painters.
A Green Thought in a Green Shade, 1981, acrylic on canvas, 119 x 156 1/2 inches
The show, curated by Karen Wilkin, may not be a full retrospective of the artist's rich catalog but the short number of paintings that have been included in the exhibit attest Frankenthaler's full career as a visual innovator and risk taker.
Sphinx, 1976, acrylic on canvas, 105 x 114 inches
Large stained canvases fill the space, some bare and some richly covered by her brilliant pools of color. But no matter which technique she may have used to execute the work, the paintings always remain fresh, an impressive feat for a career as long as hers.
Provincetown I, 1961, oil on canvas, 92 3/4 x 101 3/4
Very early on Frankenthaler expressed a commitment to painting and never wavered, even at times when the art world turned its back on the idea of beauty in art, Frankenthaler kept creating beautiful pictures that surpass the decorative category some may have put them in.
Warming Trend, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 74 3/4 x 84 1/4 inches
Warming Trend, with its chroma subtlety, is captivating and commands the viewer to come into the painting and explore the complexity of its soft layers of blue and violet hues. Perhaps the most delicate aspects of the piece are the bottom and right edges, where the different layers are revealed as they come close to the end of the painting and a small amount of raw canvas peeks through.
The Rake's Progress, 1991, acrylic on canvas, 94 1/2 x 68 1/2 inches

Pink Lady, 1963, oil on canvas, 84 1/2 x 58 inches
Frankenthaler's influence in art could be felt on opening night, there was excitement in the air, as if most of the people there were experiencing her art for the first time. The span of her career has inspired a legion of painters, thus contradicting remarks that painting is dead.
Frankenthaler At Eighty: Six Decades will run until January 10,2009 at Knoedler and Company.

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