Exhibition Announcement

Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990 – 2003


The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro presents the exhibition Helen Frankenthaler: Late Works, 1990-2003 (June 12 – August 28, 2021). The exhibition features 22 works on paper on loan from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and marks the first comprehensive opportunity to see the fruits of Frankenthaler’s late career in depth.

Curated by Douglas Dreishpoon, Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Catalogue Raisonné, and accompanied by a multi-authored publication with Radius Books (March 2022), the exhibition was on view at the New Britain Museum of American Art from February 12 through May 23, 2021, before traveling to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina (June 12—August 28, 2021), and finally to the Palm Springs Art Museum in California (Fall 2021/Winter 2022).

Recognized as one of the great American artists of the 20th century and best known for her invention of the soak-stain technique, the painter was a fearless experimenter, particularly when it came to new materials and processes. In the later stages of her life, she deployed many of the same media and instruments that had been her longtime staples: charcoal, crayon, pastel, pen, and ink, as well as acrylic paint thinned out and applied with brushes, sponges, and an array of hardware utensils (windshield wipers, basters, and scrapers). Having always painted canvases directly on the studio floor, she started using larger sheets of paper—some measuring over 6 feet—likewise laid out on the floor or on table tops for easier accessibility.

“The continuity between the late work and what came before, in content and execution, is striking: compositions that vary from dense and somber to airy and buoyant; favored figures rendered in fresh contexts; and the curious commingling of amorphic and geometric configurations distinguish Frankenthaler’s poetic abstractions,” said Douglas Dreishpoon, Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Catalogue Raisonné and exhibition curator. “Graced with an expansive art-historical image bank and technical prowess, the seventy-something-year-old painter moved in whatever direction suited her mood and imagination.”

”The artworks in this exhibition are stunning,” said Dr. Emily Stamey, curator of exhibitions at the Weatherspoon Art Museum. “There’s a real joy to be found in Frankenthaler’s brilliant explorations of color, and the chance to experience a chorus of these works together is a rare and special opportunity.”

About Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) is recognized among the most important American abstract painters of the 20th century, widely credited for her pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. Best known for her invention of the soak-stain technique, Frankenthaler experimented tirelessly throughout her six-decade-long career, producing a large body of work in painting, prints, works on paper, and other mediums, whose impact on contemporary art has been profound and continues to grow.

Frankenthaler had her first solo exhibition at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1951—the same year she was featured in the landmark exhibition 9th St. Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture. Her distinguished career includes numerous monographic museum exhibitions at: the Jewish Museum in New York (1960); Whitney Museum of American Art (1969), which toured in Europe; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (a works on paper retrospective in 1985); and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (1989), which had an extensive tour in the United States. Additional notable exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1993) and the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL (2003) featured her print editions and paintings on paper. She also maintained a consistent presence in major international exhibitions, including representing the United States in the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966.

Frankenthaler also received numerous awards and accolades during her lifetime, including the National Medal of Arts in 2001. Her work is held in the collections of major museums worldwide and continues to be exhibited widely, most recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; National Gallery of Art, DC; and Tate Modern.

This exhibition at Weatherspoon Art Museum is organized by Dr. Emily Stamey, Curator of Exhibitions.

Related Program:

Curator Talk: Douglas Dreishpoon
Wednesday, June 16, 4-5pm
virtual event, registration required
Douglas Dreishpoon is currently Director of the Catalogue Raisonné project at the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in New York City, and Chief Curator Emeritus at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. He was a former curator at the Weatherspoon Art Museum from 1995–1998. His writing has been published in numerous catalogues, magazines, and journals. Recent publications include ROBERT MANGOLD: Beyond the Line | Paintings and Project 2000–2008 (Abrams, 2009); The Long Curve: 150 Years of Visionary Collecting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Skira, 2011); Giving Up One’s Mark: Helen Frankenthaler in the 1960s and 1970s (Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 2014); Nothing and Everything: Seven Artists, 1947–1962 (Hauser & Wirth, 2017), and Modern Sculpture: Artists in Their Own Words (University of California Press, 2023). He holds a PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Image: Helen Frankenthaler, Beginnings, 1994 (detail). Acrylic on paper, 78 ¾ x 77 ¾ in. Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, New York. © 2021 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo by Roz Akin, courtesy Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

For a complete, updated list of Weatherspoon programs, visit weatherspoonart.org.

Guided + Self-Guided Visits
School and community groups are invited to visit the museum on their own or via a docent-led tour. Admission and tours are free. Please contact us at least three weeks in advance to schedule your visit, (336) 334-5770 or weatherspoon@uncg.edu.

About the Weatherspoon Art Museum

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro enriches the lives of diverse individuals and connects multiple communities, both on and off campus, by presenting, interpreting, and collecting modern and contemporary art. In recognizing its paramount role of public service, the Weatherspoon fosters an appreciation of the ability of art to positively impact lives.

The Weatherspoon Art Museum at UNC Greensboro was founded by Gregory Ivy in 1941 and is the earliest of any art facilities within the UNC system. The museum was founded as a resource for the campus, community, and region and its early leadership developed an emphasis—maintained to this day—on presenting and acquiring modern and contemporary works of art. A 1950 bequest from the renowned collection of Claribel and Etta Cone, which included prints and bronzes by Henri Matisse and other works on paper by American and European modernists, helped to establish the Weatherspoon’s permanent collection.

In 1989, the museum moved into its present location in The Anne and Benjamin Cone Building designed by the architectural firm Mitchell Giurgula. The museum has six galleries and a sculpture courtyard with over 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. The American Alliance of Museums accredited the Weatherspoon in 1995 and renewed its accreditation in 2005 and 2015.

Collections + Exhibitions
The permanent collection of the Weatherspoon Art Museum is considered to be one of the foremost of its kind in the Southeast. It represents all major art movements from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. Among the nearly 6,200 works in the collection are pieces by such prominent figures as Henry Ossawa Tanner, Edward Weston, Joseph Stella, David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Elizabeth Catlett, Louise Nevelson, Gordon Parks, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Cindy Sherman, Adrian Piper, Betye Saar, Amy Silman, Nick Cave, Jennifer Steinkamp, and Sanford Biggers. The museum regularly lends to major exhibitions nationally and internationally.

The Weatherspoon also is known for its dynamic exhibition program. Through a lively annual calendar of exhibitions and a multi-disciplinary educational program for audiences of all ages, the museum provides an opportunity for visitors to consider artistic, cultural, and social issues of our time—enriching the life of our university, community, and region.

UNC Greensboro
Located in North Carolina’s third largest city, UNC Greensboro is among the most diverse, learner-centered public research universities in the state, with nearly 18,000 students in eight colleges and schools pursuing more than 150 areas of undergraduate and over 200 areas of graduate study. UNCG continues to be recognized nationally for academic excellence, access, and affordability. UNCG is ranked No. 1 most affordable institution in North Carolina for net cost by the N.Y. Times and No. 1 in North Carolina for social mobility by The Wall Street Journal — helping first-generation and lower-income students find paths to prosperity. Designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, UNCG is a community-engaged research institution with a portfolio of more than $67M in research and creative activity. The University’s 1,100 faculty and 1,700 staff help create an annual economic impact for the Piedmont Triad region in excess of $1B. For additional information, please visit uncg.edu and follow UNCG on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Weatherspoon Art Museum
UNC Greensboro
1005 Spring Garden Street
Greensboro, NC 27412, (336) 334-5770, weatherspoon@uncg.edu

For more information or press images, contact:
Loring Mortensen, (336) 256-1451, lamorten@uncg.edu