Kenyon College



Helen Frankenthaler

Untitled. 1986.
Gouache on Paper.
Courtesy of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.


In this 1986 gouache composition, Helen Frankenthaler achieves a taut balance of spontaneity and control. Where, in some areas of the painting, visible brushstrokes betray her artistic intervention, in others she embraces a random interplay of color and form, born of her innovative paint-dripping technique. In the early 1950s, Frankenthaler inspired a generation of male colorists, including Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, when she began pouring oil paints, thinned with turpentine, onto large canvases placed on the floor. Her paints permeated the fabric surface in unpredictable ways, creating abstract shapes which often evoked organic forms and natural landscapes. In the 1960s, Frankenthaler started using her characteristic soak-stain method in other painterly media, including watercolor, watered-down acrylics, and gouache, as seen here. As a result, her work evolved from lively splatters and drips of oil paint into more restrained forms, whose deep, monochrome stains reveal the gradient of hues within a single color of paint.

Hanna Washburn ‘14

Virginia McBride ‘15