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Helen Frankenthaler

Contemporary Art

A leader of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, in the early 1950s Helen Frankenthaler developed a unique technique, diluting traditional oil paints with turpentine, allowing for what she termed a “soak stain” on an unprimed canvas. For Lorelei, inspired by a boat ride on Germany’s Rhine River, Frankenthaler positioned her canvas on the floor, moving her body around its perimeter and gaining new vantage points while pouring, tossing, and flicking paint from cans and brushes. The artist avoided applied brushstrokes; she told the Brooklyn Museum in 1966 that she preferred “an immediate, allover look . . . something that looks as if it were all born at once. As if it happened.” This emphasis on energy over exacting composition was perceived as an avant-garde break from centuries of Western painting traditions, garnering critical and collector support.
MEDIUM Oil on untreated cotton duck
DATES 1957
DIMENSIONS 70 5/8 x 86 3/4 in. (179.4 x 220.3 cm) frame: 75 x 91 7/8 x 2 1/2 in. (190.5 x 233.4 x 6.4 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Purchase gift of Allan D. Emil
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928–2011). Lorelei, 1957. Oil on untreated cotton duck, 70 5/8 x 86 3/4 in. (179.4 x 220.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Allan D. Emil, 58.39. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 58.39_PS11.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 58.39_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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RIGHTS STATEMENT © artist or artist's estate
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