Helen Frankenthaler late works exhibition coming to Palm Springs Art Museum

This fall, Palm Springs Art Museum will present Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990-2003the first museum exhibition dedicated to the late work of Helen Frankenthaler. The exhibition will feature 20 paintings on paper and 10 paintings on canvas on loan from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. It opens Oct. 14, 2021 and will run through February 27, 2022.

As a second-generation postwar abstract artist, Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) played a key role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting beginning in the 1950s with her soak-stain technique, which involved pouring thinned oil paint directly onto unprimed canvas. She was a fearless experimenter, particularly when it came to new materials and processes.

“Frankenthaler is one of the great American artists of the 20th century. She demonstrated continuous innovation and creativity over the course of her illustrious six-decade career,” Adam Lerner, Executive Director/CEO of Palm Springs Art Museum, said. “We’re delighted to be working with the Frankenthaler Foundation to present this first opportunity for the public to view her later work, which built upon her early successes and furthered some of her ongoing studies.”

Towards the end of her life, Frankenthaler deployed many of the same media and instruments that had been her longtime staples: charcoal, crayon, pastel, pen and ink, as well as acrylic paint thinned out and applied with brushes, sponges and an array of hardware utensils such as windshield wipers, basters and scrapers.

Having always painted canvases directly on the studio floor, she started using larger sheets of paper – some measuring over six-feet – likewise laid out on the floor on on table tops for easier accessibility. 

About Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) is recognized among the most important American abstract painters of the 20th century, widely credited for her pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. Best known for her invention of the soak-stain technique, Frankenthaler experimented tirelessly throughout her six-decade-long career, producing a large body of work in painting, prints, works on paper, and other mediums, whose impact on contemporary art has been profound and continues to grow.

Frankenthaler had her first solo exhibition at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1951—the same year she was featured in the landmark exhibition 9th St. Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Her distinguished career includes numerous monographic museum exhibitions at: the Jewish Museum in New York (1960); Whitney Museum of American Art (1969), which toured in Europe; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (a works-on-paper retrospective in 1985); and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (1989), which had an extensive tour in the United States. Additional notable exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1993) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL (2003) featured her print editions and paintings on paper.

She also maintained a consistent presence in major international exhibitions, including representing the United States in the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966.

Frankenthaler also received numerous awards and accolades during her lifetime, including the National Medal of Arts in 2001. Her work is held in the collections of major museums worldwide and continues to be exhibited widely, most recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; National Gallery of Art, DC; and Tate Modern.

About the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation:

Established and endowed by Helen Frankenthaler during her lifetime, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation advances the artist’s legacy and inspires a new generation of practitioners through a range of philanthropic, educational, and research initiatives. Since becoming active in 2013, the Foundation has continued to strategically expand its program, which includes organizing and supporting significant exhibitions of the artist’s work, fostering new research and publications, advancing educational programs in partnership with arts organizations around the world, and launching groundbreaking initiatives that foster systemic change in the field.

As a primary resource on the artist, and a steward of her collection and archive, the Foundation holds an extensive selection of Frankenthaler’s work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work.

About Palm Springs Art Museum:

Palm Springs Art Museum is the largest cultural institution in the Coachella Valley and includes three locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. The flagship building, located in downtown Palm Springs, features compelling art exhibitions, a vast permanent collection, and the Annenberg Theater, all in a 150,000-square-foot, architecturally significant building.

The Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, features exhibitions and programming that explore the rich topics of architecture and design. In Palm Desert, Palm Springs Art Museum’s four-acre Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

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