Helen Frankenthaler, Milkwood Arcade, 1963, acrylic on canvas, 86 1/2 × 80 3/4 inches (219.7 × 205.1 cm) © 2017 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

"As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings" at The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

On view July 1 through October 9, 2017.

This exhibition comprises a selection of large paintings by Helen Frankenthaler from the 1950s through the 1990s, focusing on nature as a longstanding inspiration. Like many abstract artists, Frankenthaler continually tested the constraints of the genre, at times inserting into her compositions elements of recognizable subject matter that throw the abstract elements into relief. The paintings in this exhibition represent the full range of styles and techniques that she explored over five decades of work; while all are primarily abstract, they also contain allusions to landscape, demonstrating how Frankenthaler’s delicate balance between abstraction and a nuanced responsiveness to nature and place developed and shifted over time. As Frankenthaler once commented, “Anything that has beauty and provides order (rather than chaos or shock alone), anything resolved in a picture (as in nature) gives pleasure—a sense of rightness, as in being one with nature.”


During the 1979–80 academic year, Abstract Expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler was part of the Williams College Artist-in-Residence Program. At the end of this period, the Clark presented and toured a comprehensive exhibition of her prints, curated by Thomas Krens, then director of the Artist-in-Residence Program and incoming director of the Williams College Museum of Art. The Clark renews its association with the artist this summer with two exhibitions exploring her paintings and prints. "As in Nature" focuses on the complex meanings behind the color in Frankenthaler’s paintings, while "No Rules" features Frankenthaler’s rich woodcuts, executed over four decades of her career.


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