“My pictures are full of climates, abstract climates. They’re not nature per se, but a feeling,” said Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011). A second-generation Abstract Expressionist painter, Frankenthaler became active in the New York School of the 1950s, initially influenced by artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky. She gained prominence with her invention of the color-stain technique—applying thin washes of paint to unprimed canvas—in her iconic Mountains and Sea (1952).
Frankenthaler’s works balance abstraction with elements of landscape and figuration, as seen in her 1987 lithograph Yellow Jack. The work transports the viewer to a calm seashore—or perhaps a cool desert—after dusk, with the rising moon’s bright yellow light bleeding from the composition’s edges. “This complicated relationship to landscape presents a constant tension in her art,” notes the Clark Art Institute in the exhibition materials for their current show, As In Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings. “[Her works] are primarily abstract, yet reveal recognizable elements from the landscape that function, paradoxically, to reinforce their abstraction: as in nature, but not as in nature.”
Image: Helen Frankenthaler, Yellow Jack, 1987, lithograph, 30 x 36 in.
“My whole area of art has always been addressed to working with other people,” said Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008). “Ideas are not real estate.” It’s this collaborative philosophy that inspired MoMA’s Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends, the first retrospective of the American artist’s work in the 21st century. The museum calls the show an “open monograph,” with Rauschenberg’s work appearing alongside the art of his contemporaries. It’s a labyrinthine flow chart of ideas, which is also an apt way to describe his prints.
Just as Rauschenberg incorporated everyday objects into his iconic assemblages, he brought quotidian imagery crashing together through printmaking. He often incorporated his own photographs and found images, electrifying them with colorful, exuberant marks. In Rauschenberg’s prints, we sense his dual role as a disruptor of Abstract Expressionism and a progenitor of Pop Art. We’ve added two new prints by Rauschenberg to the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Scroll down to view Earth Day and Arcanum V, and click here to browse all of our artwork by Rauschenberg.
Arcanum V (from Arcanum Series), 1981
Color silkscreen with hand-coloring and collage on paper
Published and printed by Styria Studio, New York
#12 of 85
Signed and dated with edition in graphite lower right sheet; Styria
Studio blind stamp lower right sheet
Image/sheet: 22.5″ x 15.5″; Frame: 31.25″ x 24.25″
Earth Day, 1990
Color silkscreen and color pochoir on wove paper pencil
sheet: 64.25″ h x 42.75″ w overall (with frame): 68.25″ h x 46.5″ w
Rauschenberg was an avid environmental activist. In 1970, he created a print for the inaugural Earth Day. Twenty years later, he observed Earth Day 1990—which vaulted the celebration onto the world stage, with over 200 million participants—by creating this color silkscreen.
“Painting is about the beauty of space and the power of containment,” said Sam Francis (1923-1994). The artist is best known for abstract, mural-sized canvases on which thin washes, drips and splatters of primary colors float within vast areas of white space—a format emphasized in his iconic series of “Edge Paintings.” The monumentality of his paintings places them within the tradition of Abstract Expressionist pictures, which fill the viewer’s field of vision with a direct experience of color and movement.
Francis’ 1970’s color lithograph Cut Throat is the newest addition to the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection. Look below to learn more, and click here to browse more work by Sam Francis in the Zane Bennett Contemporary collection.
Cut Throat AP V
45.25 x 31.25 in