Blog Archives

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.

 

Budd Hopkins, 1931 – 2011

Elliot "Budd" Hopkins

According to the NY Times, Budd Hopkins, a distinguished Abstract Expressionist artist who — after what he described as a chance sighting of something flat, silver, airborne and unfathomable — became the father of the alien-abduction movement, died on Aug. 21 at his home in Manhattan. He was 80. I only discovered this today and I’m sorry to be just getting around to it. I knew Budd at the beginnings of his UFO phase when he was an advisor to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, during my period as Director.

Budd at that time was married to the second of his three wives, art historian and critic April Kingsley, and they lived in a futuristic

Artwork by Budd Hopkins in the 1980s

concrete cottage that looked a lot like one of Budd’s paintings, in Truro. It wasn’t long before his artwork was overshadowed by his observation of a “UFO” and the publicity it gained. Being a member of the circle of New York artists that in the 1950s and ’60s included Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline, Budd had access to the press and was somewhat of a celebrity in summers on the Lower Cape.

Budd’s UFO sighting occurred on Cape Cod in 1964. After that he researched other sightings, people who claimed to have been abducted, and the government’s denial of the existence of any such phenomena. He was quick to point out that he had never been abducted.

He wrote about his experiences as a UFO researcher in his memoir, “Art, Life and UFOs,” published in 2009 by Anomalist Books.

Cy Twombly dies at 83.

Edwin Parker “Cy” Twombly, Jr., American abstract artist, died in Rome yesterday at te age of 83. Well known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, Twombly was of the same school as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell and other abstractionists who hit their early peak in the 1950s and 60s.

When my wife told me this morning that Twombly had died, I was very sad. He is one of those artists whose work I had the opportunity of originally seeing in Chicago when I was a student at Northwestern and his work always appealed to me.

Twombly was born in Virginia and nicknamed Cy (as was his father) after the famous baseball player Cy Young.

Late 1960s painting by Cy Twombly

On a tuition scholarship from 1950 to 1951, he studied at the Art Students League of New York, where he met Robert Rauschenberg, who encouraged him to attend Black Mountain College near Asheville, North Carolina where he studied with Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and Ben Shahn, and met John Cage. His first Solo Exhibition (heavily influenced by Kline) was at the Samuel Kootz Gallery in 1951.

In 1957 Twombly moved to Rome, where he married the Italian Tatia Franchetti, in 1959 – sister of his patron Giorgio Franchetti. He died in Rome after being hospitalized for several days, and had cancer for many years.