Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty

Photographed 3/20/2017

One of the best exhibitions currently presented in London is the first major UK exhibition of woodcuts by leading Abstract Expressionist, Helen Frankenthaler at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It is featured at this remarkable museum until April 2022.

Frankenthaler (1928–2011) constantly experimented throughout her six-decade long career, producing a large body of work across multiple media. Often associated with Abstract Expressionism, she remains a pioneer who endlessly pushed possibilities of colour and form, through her visual experimentations.

Radical Beauty centres on the artist’s groundbreaking woodcuts, which appear painterly and spontaneous with expanses of colour and fluid forms. “This is a truly special opportunity for visitors to get up close to Frankenthaler’s phenomenal works in the intimate spaces of Dulwich Picture Gallery. There is something magical about how Frankenthaler breathes life into such a rigid medium, retaining the energy and dynamism – that born at once feeling – that you see in her painting. And with her proofs and process explored alongside we’ll show the painstaking work behind these beguiling works – revealing just how accomplished Frankenthaler was in modulating control and spontaneity in her art.” Jane Findlay, Head of Programme & Engagement at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and curator of show said.

The exhibition culminates with Frankenthaler’s masterpiece, Madame Butterfly (2000) displayed in the last room. Sharing its title with the 1904 opera by Giacomo Puccini, the triptych’s light pastel colours and stained marks show Frankenthaler at her most expressive and lyrical.

Image: Madame Butterfly; image courtesy of Helen Frankenthaler Foundation