(1928 – 2011)

In 1951, Helen Frankenthaler saw Jackson Pollock’s exhibition at Betty Parson’s Gallery; the experience proved seminal. Frankenthaler later said, “I wanted to live in this land. I had to live there, and master the language.” One year later she painted her career-defining work Mountains and Sea (1952) and went on to become one of the most influential painters of the postwar era. Her pioneering technique of placing heavily diluted oil paint directly on to the bare canvas, so that the pigment formed a stain and allowed the texture of the ground to show through the paint, effectively merged image and surface and eliminated the traditional medium/ground relationship. The method resulted in atmospheric effects reminiscent of watercolor and had a major impact on future color field painters, most notably Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland.