By NICHOLAS KULISH
As the currency ends its first decade, the word “euro” in a headline is usually paired with the word “crisis.” Michel Prieur, a numismatist, called the euro’s design sterile.
As the currency ends its first decade, the word “euro” in a headline is usually paired with the word “crisis.” Michel Prieur, a numismatist, called the euro’s design sterile.
Helen Frankenthaler, the lyrically abstract painter whose technique of staining pigment into raw canvas helped shape an influential art movement in the mid-20th century and who became one of the most admired artists of her generation, died on Tuesday at her home in Darien, Conn. She was 83.
Her longtime assistant, Maureen St. Onge, said Ms. Frankenthaler died after a long illness but gave no other details.
Known as a second-generation Abstract Expressionist, Ms. Frankenthaler was married during the movement’s heyday to the painter Robert Motherwell, a leading first-generation member of the group. But she departed from the first generation’s romantic search for the “sublime” to pursue her own path.
Refining a technique, developed by Jackson Pollock, of pouring pigment directly onto canvas laid on the floor, Ms. Frankenthaler, heavily influencing the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, developed a method of painting best known as Color Field — although Clement Greenberg, the critic most identified with it, called it Post-Painterly Abstraction. Where Pollock had used enamel that rested on raw canvas like skin, Ms. Frankenthaler poured turpentine-thinned paint in watery washes onto the raw canvas so that it soaked into the fabric weave, becoming one with it.
Her staining method emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, and it called attention to the very nature of paint on canvas, a concern of artists and critics at the time. It also brought a new, open airiness to the painted surface and was credited with releasing color from the gestural approach and romantic rhetoric of Abstract Expressionism.
Ms. Frankenthaler more or less stumbled on her stain technique, she said, first using it in creating “Mountains and Sea” (1952). Produced on her return to New York from a trip to Nova Scotia, the painting is a light-struck, diaphanous evocation of hills, rocks and water. Its delicate balance of drawing and painting, fresh washes of color (predominantly blues and pinks) and breakthrough technique have made it one of her best-known works.
“The landscapes were in my arms as I did it,” Ms. Frankenthaler told an interviewer. “I didn’t realize all that I was doing. I was trying to get at something — I didn’t know what until it was manifest.”
She later described the seemingly unfinished painting — which is on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington — as “looking to many people like a large paint rag, casually accidental and incomplete.”
Unlike many of her painter colleagues at the time, Ms. Frankenthaler, born in New York City on Dec. 12, 1928, came from a prosperous Manhattan family. She was one of three daughters of Alfred Frankenthaler, a New York State Supreme Court judge, and the former Martha Lowenstein, an immigrant from Germany. Helen, their youngest, was interested in art from early childhood, when she would dribble nail polish into a sink full of water to watch the color flow.
After graduation from the Dalton School, where she studied art with the Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo, she entered Bennington College in 1946. There the painter Paul Feeley, a thoroughgoing taskmaster, taught her “everything I know about Cubism,” she said. The intellectual atmosphere at Bennington was heady, with instructors like Kenneth Burke, Erich Fromm and Ralph Ellison setting the pace.
As a self-described “saddle-shoed girl a year out of Bennington,” Ms. Frankenthaler made her way into the burgeoning New York art world with a boost from Mr. Greenberg, whom she met in 1950 and with whom she had a five-year relationship. Through him she met crucial players like David Smith, Jackson Pollock, Willem and Elaine de Kooning and Franz Kline.
In 1951, with Mr. Greenberg’s prompting, she joined the new Tibor de Nagy gallery, run by the ebullient aesthete John B. Myers, and had her first solo show there that year. She spent summers visiting museums in Europe, pursuing an interest in quattrocento and old master painting.
Her marriage to Mr. Motherwell in 1958 gave the couple an art-world aura. Like her, he came from a well-to-do family, and “the golden couple,” as they were known in the cash-poor and backbiting art world of the time, spent several leisurely months honeymooning in Spain and France.
In Manhattan, they removed themselves from the downtown scene and established themselves in a house on East 94th Street, where they developed a reputation for lavish entertaining. The British sculptor Anthony Caro recalled a dinner party they gave for him and his wife on their first trip to New York, in 1959. It was attended by some 100 guests, and he was seated between David Smith and the actress Hedy Lamarr.
“Helen loved to entertain,” said Ann Freedman, the former president of Knoedler & Company, Ms. Frankenthaler’s dealer until its recent closing. “She enjoyed feeding people and engaging in lively conversation. And she liked to dance. In fact, you could see it in her movements as she worked on her paintings.”
Ms. Frankenthaler’s passion for dancing was more than fulfilled in 1985 when, at a White House dinner to honor the Prince and Princess of Wales, she was partnered with a fast stepper who had been twirling the princess.
“I’d waited a lifetime for a dance like this,” she wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed article for The New York Times. “He was great!”
His name meant nothing to her until, on returning to her New York studio, she showed her assistant and a friend his card. “John Travolta,” it read.
Despite the early acknowledgment of Ms. Frankenthaler’s achievement by Mr. Greenberg and by her fellow artists, wider recognition took some time. Her first major museum show, a retrospective of her 1950s work with a catalog by the critic and poet Frank O’Hara, a curator at the Museum of Modern Art, was at the Jewish Museum in 1960. But she became better known to the art-going public after a major retrospective organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969.
Although Ms. Frankenthaler rarely discussed the sources of her abstract imagery, it reflected her impressions of landscape, her meditations on personal experience and the pleasures of dealing with paint. Visually diverse, her paintings were never produced in “serial” themes like those of her Abstract Expressionist predecessors or her Color Field colleagues like Noland and Louis. She looked on each of her works as a separate exploration.
But “Mountains and Sea” did establish many of the traits that have informed her art from the beginning, the art historian E. A. Carmean Jr. suggested. In the catalog for his 1989-90 Frankenthaler retrospective at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, he cited the color washes, the dialogue between drawing and painting, the seemingly raw, unfinished look, and the “general theme of place” as characteristic of her work.
Besides her paintings, Ms. Frankenthaler is known for her inventive lithographs, etchings and screen prints she produced since 1961, but critics have suggested that her woodcuts have made the most original contribution to printmaking.
In making her first woodcut, “East and Beyond,” in 1973, Ms. Frankenthaler wanted to make the grainy, unforgiving wood block receptive to the vibrant color and organic, amorphous forms of her own painting. By dint of trial and error, with technical help from printmaking studios, she succeeded.
For “East and Beyond,” which depicts a radiant open space above a graceful mountainlike divide, she used a jigsaw to cut separate shapes, then printed the whole by a specially devised method to eliminate the white lines between them when put together. The result was a taut but fluid composition so refreshingly removed from traditional woodblock technique that it has had a deep influence on the medium ever since. “East and Beyond” became to contemporary printmaking in the 1970s what Ms. Frankenthaler’s paint staining in “Mountains and Sea” had been to the development of Color Field painting 20 years earlier.
In 1972, Ms. Frankenthaler made a less successful foray into sculpture, spending two weeks at Mr. Caro’s London studio. With no experience in the medium but aided by a skilled assistant, she welded together found steel parts in a way that evoked the work of David Smith.
Although she enjoyed the experience, she did not repeat it. Knoedler gave the work its first public showing in 2006.
Critics have not unanimously praised Ms. Frankenthaler’s art. Some have seen it as thin in substance, uncontrolled in method, too sweet in color and too “poetic.” But it has been far more apt to garner admirers like the critic Barbara Rose, who wrote in 1972 of Ms. Frankenthaler’s gift for “the freedom, spontaneity, openness and complexity of an image, not exclusively of the studio or the mind, but explicitly and intimately tied to nature and human emotions.”
Ms. Frankenthaler and Mr. Motherwell were divorced in 1971. In 1994 she married Stephen M. DuBrul Jr., an investment banker who had headed the Export-Import Bank during the Ford administration. Besides her husband, her survivors include two stepdaughters, Jeannie Motherwell and Lise Motherwell, and six nieces and nephews. Her two sisters, Gloria Ross Bookman and Marjorie Iseman, died before her.
In 1999, she and Mr. DuBrul bought a house in Darien, on Long Island Sound. Water, sky and their shifting light are often reflected in her later imagery.
As the years passed, her paintings seemed to make more direct references to the visible world. But they sometimes harked back to the more spontaneous, exuberant and less referential work of her earlier career.
There is “no formula,” she said in an interview in The New York Times in 2003. “There are no rules. Let the picture lead you where it must go.”
She never aligned herself with the feminist movement in art that began to surface in the 1970s. “For me, being a ‘lady painter’ was never an issue,” she was quoted as saying in John Gruen’s book “The Party’s Over Now” (1972). “I don’t resent being a female painter. I don’t exploit it. I paint.”
Dec 23rd 2011, 15:52 by G.D. | LONDON
A DESIGNER, restaurateur and retailer, Sir Terence Conran has significantly influenced the way we live and eat in Britain over the past five decades. Beginning in 1964, his Habitat chain of stores helped to introduce simple, well-designed housewares at affordable prices. Decades later, his restaurants did much to introduce the country to fine and stylish cuisine.
Sir Terence remains busy: having turned 80 in October, he recently launched a collection of housewares for Marks & Spencer. A new retrospective of his work is also now on at London’s Design Museum. That this museum even exists is in part due to Sir Terence’s work in establishing its forerunner, called the Boilerhouse, in the basement of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1982. The project’s success led to the opening of the Design Museum in 1989 at its current spot in Shad Thames. Over the past 30 years the Conran Foundation has supported the museum to the tune of £50m.
Why did you feel strongly about creating a design museum in London?
I’d always been fascinated by Milan’s Triennale in my early years as a designer. I saw how stimulating and influential it was for both students and manufacturers to see the design of the best contemporary products in the world. I started to dream about how something similar could happen in the UK—so when I made serious money through the flotation of Habitat I set up the Conran Foundation with the idea of creating a permanent home in the UK for the display of modern design.
Unlike many young designers today you learned how to make many things with your hands, from brick-laying and pottery to welding. Do you think that was important for your career as a designer?
Absolutely—I have always related my work to the manufacturing process and never designed anything I wouldn’t know how to make myself. As a small child I remember my favourite present was a bag of wooden off cuts and a pretty basic tool kit. After much pestering, my mother gave me a space for a small workshop and allowed me to set up a wood fired pottery kiln. There is no doubt it is where I first began to develop the curious mind of a designer. I think it is vital for any designer to roll their sleeves up and get heavily involved in the making process because it helps you get a deeper level of understanding about design and how it relates to the consumer.
Do you think all designers should learn to 'make' things without using a computer?
While we must embrace computers, we must not become slaves to them—the best ideas always start with an HB pencil and a sheet of plain paper.
Can you tell me something about your new collection for Marks & Spencer?
To work with M&S on this project is the opportunity of a lifetime. It gives us the chance to produce a truly democratic and British collection, everything that William Morris and the Bauhaus—both great inspirations to me—hoped to achieve. It’s really everything that goes into a home. To me design has, and always will be, about problem solving and making people’s lives easier and more comfortable. Because design is all around us, in the shape of our houses and the arrangement of our interior space, in the way we entertain ourselves and the ease with which we move from place to place. Even at the start of my career I had a fierce conviction that there was a great opportunity to sell furniture to a wider domestic audience.
You were the first person to make flat-pack furniture in Britain, and you introduced new cooking utensils such as Italian coffee-makers to this country. Why do you think you had such a desire to change people's lifestyles?
It grew out of our generation’s sense of frustration.What you have to remember is how grim things were in postwar Britain. But there was a younger generation growing up who, for the first time, had a bit of money in their pockets and wanted to live a different life to that of their parents. The seeds of the “swinging sixties” were actually sewn a decade earlier. Over two decades later when we were establishing Conran restaurants it was a similar story—Londoners were flush with money and wanted to enjoy the pleasure of eating out, but there were practically no good restaurants around. In fact the choice was appalling, which is incredible to think as London is now the best city in the world to eat out. People can only buy what they are offered, and that is fundamentally how people’s taste evolves.
The Habitat catalogues were also quite unique. They were like glossy magazines.
Along with the shopfronts, the catalogues were just a new and exciting way of showcasing our products and opening people’s eyes to how they may look in their own home. We wanted to inspire people. We started them in 1965 as loose sheets attached in one corner, and eventually the catalogue grew to 88 pages in full colour, managed by a specialist department within the company dedicated entirely to its production.
I have heard you say that living in a country that doesn't make things destroys national pride. What do you mean?
My lifelong belief is that we have the most amazing craftsmen in this country. If you add this to the fact the UK’s creative industries are the finest in the world, then why on earth are we no longer a country that prides itself on making things? We need to ensure we keep utilising and valuing these skills. They were a vital part of our past and we must find a way to make them part of our future. There is nothing more profoundly depressing in life than unemployment, and the easiest way to create jobs is to employ people to make things. It seems so absurdly simple to me. The government needs to understand the vital role of the arts, design, craft and ultimately manufacturing. They give back so much more to the economy in return for a relatively small amount of funding.
"Terence Conran: The Way We Live Now" is on view at the Design Museum in London until March 4th
A conversation with a pioneer of contemporary user-friendly design(7)
BY HIROYUKI OTA STAFF WRITER
The artist Nobuyuki Ohnishi displays some of his works at his studio in the Kudanshita Building. (Kengo Hiyoshi)A sign for the building at the entrance (Kengo Hiyoshi)Netting covers the Kudanshita Building that is in the process of being torn down. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
Artists are converging on a 85-year-old Tokyo building in the process of being torn down to give it a colorful sayonara.
|書名||Stockholm Town Hall|
|作者||Elías Cornell, Ivar Sviestins|
David W. Orr is Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College. He is the author of Ecological Literacy and Earth in Mind, as well as more than 100 published articles. Among other awards, he has received a Lyndhurst Prize Fellowship and the National Wildlife Federation's National Achievement Award.
Clyfford Still (1904-80) was a major figure of the Abstract Expressionist movement whose name was once frequently mentioned along with revered artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.
When he died, Still's paintings, by decree of his will, were sealed away until a "permanent quarters" devoted to his work — and only his — could be established.
On Nov. 18, 2011, the Clyfford Still Museum will open in Denver and house Still's paintings.
More than a dozen art institutions tried and failed, before Denver, to persuade Still's widow Patricia to house the work.
1944-N No. 1 (PH-235), 1944
The volume of work is substantial: the estate held 825 canvases and 1,575 works on paper, 90% of his life's work.
1949 No. 1 (PH-385), 1949
Toward the end of his lifetime, Still enjoyed great prominence. In 1979, New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art presented a hugely popular exhibition of his work that was the biggest presentation the institution had ever given to a living artist.