Seascape with Dunes, 1962
Visiting Jackson Pollock in 1951, Helen Frankenthaler observed how he poured lines and pools of black paint onto raw canvas, creating an image that appeared to be stained into the weave instead of resting on top of it. Back in her studio, she experimented with thinning and pouring different hues, using oil paint to create watercolor-like washes. The resulting images seemed alternately to merge with the canvases and float free of them.
In 1962, Frankenthaler began using acrylic paints that spread more evenly and did not form oily halos. Seascape with Dunes marks a halfway point between these two distinct approaches. Here, the artist initially painted rectangular “frames” of color extending to her pictures’ literal edges; within a few years, however, she began pulling these frames back toward the center of the canvas. Whatever their format, Frankenthaler’s works communicate the transcendental beauty of the natural world without actually resembling it.