Air Frame

Accession Number

Air Frame

Helen Frankenthaler; Tanglewood Press

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
screenprint on paper

22 in x 16 15/16 in (55.88 cm x 43.02 cm);28 1/16 in x 22 1/16 in (71.28 cm x 56.04 cm);22 in x 16 15/16 in (55.88 cm x 43.02 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Stephen M. Taylor

Label copy
Following her graduation from Bennington College in 1949, Helen Frankenthaler returned to her native New York just as the first generation of New York School artists was gaining acclaim. Among this group, it was Jackson Pollock whose revolutionary approach to the handling of materials had the most profound effect on the direction Frankenthaler would take with her own art. Incorporating the individualism and experimentation championed by the Abstract Expressionists, she helped to redefine the relationship between medium and support. She poured diluted oil paint directly onto unprimed and highly absorbent canvas, which caused the pigment to soak into the support, resulting in large, unstructured planes of color. She quickly gained prominence in the early 1950s with this new technique of stain painting and was soon joined by fellow artists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. They became a second generation of the New York School, known as the Color Field painters.
Frankenthaler began making prints in the 1960s starting with lithography and, in 1965, screenprinting. With its large washes of ink, the process of screenprinting allowed Frankenthaler to achieve the same fields of intense color as in her stain paintings, resulting in a rich visual experience. In Air Frame we see the artist’s characteristic use of brilliant color and contrasting hues, free from figuration and texture, that evoke the colors of sky, trees, and sun—an exuberant and lyrical ode to her frequent muse, nature.
Katie Weiss, Research Assistant, on the occasion of the exhibition The New York School: Abstract Expressionism and Beyond and Beyond, July 20, 2002 – January 19, 2003

Subject matter
Frankenthaler often painted abstract works, sometimes alluding to landscapes. This print is similar to her Sunset Corner (1973/1.813) from 1969, especially the broad areas of color. Her color field paintings were created by pouring and prodding the paint on an unsized canvas, often on the floor. Although her prints require much more planning and facilitation from teams of printers, they are formally similar to her fluid paintings. She was influenced by Jackson Pollock and other abstract expressionists; Frankenthaler's earlier work tends to be busier, with less open space. 

Physical Description
An abstract print of a royal blue background with white rectangle framing a green blob, and yellow stripe. It is printed on heavy-weight off-white paper.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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Abstract (fine arts style)
air (material)
landscapes (representations)
modern and contemporary art

& Author Notes

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