Elizabeth Smith, Executive Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, joins Natalie Dupêcher, Assistant Curator of Modern Art, for a conversation about Helen Frankenthaler’s pivotal role in post-war American art. They will consider how the artist pioneered a highly original form of abstraction by looking at a selection of her works, including the monumental painting Hybrid Vigor, 1973, which is currently on view in the Menil Collection. On loan from a private collection, it is the first time this work has been presented at a museum since it was acquired in the 1970s.
Helen Frankenthaler (1928 – 2011) had a distinguished and prolific career that spanned six decades. A highly influential figure in the Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting movements, she is known for her invention of the “soak-stain” technique, which expanded the possibilities of abstract painting. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo museum exhibitions, as well as three major monographs: Frankenthaler, by Barbara Rose (1972); Frankenthaler, by John Elderfield (1989); and Frankenthaler: A Catalogue Raisonné, Prints 1961–1994, by Suzanne Boorsch and Pegram Harrison (1996).