Frankenthaler’s oeuvre, while historically associated with the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field painters, is uniquely important in its propensity for constant evolution. Galileo specifically locates itself at a point in Frankenthaler’s career when the color washing of her early decades, those large works of gestural abstraction on unprimed canvas, became more deliberate and careful, and her colors more deep and saturated. Galileo is substantial amongst these works with its broad swaths of fuchsia, layered over a base of deep merlot that suggest a complex depth and spatiality. The perpendicular splash of seafoam green, with a saturated, unending stroke of intense emerald interrupts this depth and brings the eye from left to right, giving the canvas a kind of circular movement. The radiating amber orb, anchoring the right side of the composition, lends itself further to this sense of movement, implying a setting sun and perhaps explaining the work’s nod to Galileo.
Frankenthaler’s abstraction, however, defies real world association. While her canvases from this period often invoke expansive landscapes, to classify them as such would be to limit the range of their expression. It is this tendency for flexible interpretation and attractive elusiveness that defines Frankenthaler’s work and makes her an undeniable force in American abstraction.
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