HELEN FRANKENTHALER | Tethys

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Details

HELEN FRANKENTHALER
Tethys
signed, titled and dated 1981 on the revere
acrylic on canvas
46 by 100½ in. 116.8 by 255.3 cm.

Price Available Upon Request

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PROVENANCE
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
C.W. Jenness, Texas (acquired from the above)
Susan Byrd, La Jolla
Scott White Contemporary Art, San Diego (acquired from the above)
Private Collection, San Diego (acquired from the above)
Del Deo & Barzune, New York
Estate of William Louis-Dreyfus, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

EXHIBITION
Williamstown, Clark Art Institute, As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings, July - October 2017, p. 53, illustrated in color

LITERATURE
John Elderfield, Helen Frankenthaler, New York, 1989, p. 332 and 334, illustrated in color

CATALOGUE NOTE
"It is the quality of light that is one...of many things that contribute to the magic of a picture, that makes you feel 'that's beautiful. That's got it.' And you know when something doesn't have it because by contrast it goes dead and doesn't work. It doesn't have that light. It doesn't have that je ne sais quoi." - Helen Frankenthaler

Spanning over 100 inches, Helen Frankenthaler’s Tethys is an atmospheric mélange rendered in the artist’s trademark diluted acrylics, evoking the reflective quality of water or moonlight visible just beyond the clouds. An archetypal example of the artist’s “abstract climates,” Tethys blurs the border between abstraction and figuration, suggesting the presence of a recognizable scene, and then preventing evident shapes from emerging through the interaction between color and form.

In Greek mythology, Tethys was the daughter of Uranus and a Titan that embodied the stream which nourished the earth. With its washes of slate grey, navy and inflections of sky blue, the present work evokes that narrative by conjuring a sense of nature through its cool tones and instinctive, rhythmic paint application. Describing her choice to overlay her more amorphous washes with inflections of more concentrated acrylic pigment, the artist stated “my feeling [is] that a successful abstract painting plays with space on all different levels, different speeds, with different perspectives, and at the same time remains flat [...] For me the most beautiful pictures of any age have this ambiguity” (the artist cited in: Alison Rowley, Helen Frankenthaler: Painting History, Writing Painting, p. 46). Taken together, Frankenthaler's various visual strategies allude to narrative and recognizable imagery while also denying easy legibility, culminating in a work that crafts a sense of mood, environment and aura rather than image.

For all enquires, please contact David.Schrader@sothebys.com

Currently Available for Private Sale

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