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Helen Frankenthaler dies at 83…

When I became the Director of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA in the 70s, one of the framed images in my office was of Helen Frankenthaler and her then husband Robert Motherwell standing in front of “The Barn,” an old painting studio at Day’s Lumberyard, which later became the Center’s property. It reflected summer, when a large number of NYC abstract expressionists headed to the end of Cape Cod to vacation and paint and drink cocktails together. Franz Klein, Myron Stout, Jack Tworkov, Hans Hoffman and others made the tip of the Cape an exciting place.

When the FAWC started, “The Barn” became studio space for our own artists, but it was clear that the space was haunted by memories of Frankenthaler who, after breaking up with Motherwell, moved her summer studio to Long Island. We always felt like she was part of our lives.

Frankenthaler was a leading abstract expressionist at a time when women were not taken seriously by critics and peers (Hans Hoffman once commented ‘who would believe this work was done by a woman?’), yet she became famous, highly thought of, commected sand a presence in major museums.

Aside from her paintings, Ms. Frankenthaler was known for her lithographs, woodcuts, etchings and screen prints which she started makinfgin the 60s… indeed, some critics have suggested that her woodcuts have made her most original contribution to printmaking.

Frankenthaler died at age 83 on Tuesday at her home in Darien, CT.