Study 7 – Inspired by Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952

Artist: Pieter Lategan
Title: Study 7 – Inspired by Helen Frankenthaler, Mountains and Sea, 1952
Medium: Mondi Rotatrim Paper 80gsm, 3B Pencil Wood
Dimensions: 210 X 297 mm / 8.27 X 11.69 inches
Style: Abstract
Art: Abstract, Realism
Place of Origin: Pretoria, South Africa

Personal Notes:

I started to draw again, and find this image of Helen Frankenthaler on the internet, I thought to redraw draw it in pencil on paper.


Artist: Helen Frankenthaler
Title: Mountains and Sea, 1952.

Notes from the article about Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler started this painting one afternoon in her studio which she rented a few blocks down the street from her London apartment. A canvas was laying on the floor before her and was inspired by the art of Jackson Pollock, whose drip paintings she had first encountered some years before she set to work.

The canvas was unprimed and she primed it with a mix of Dutch Boy lead and glue that like other artists the typically used as a ground to prevent the colors from bleeding directly into the canvas. Helen said in her own words: “I might have been very impatient to paint.” She then thinned out her paints with turpentine, curious to see how they would soak and stain into the big empty canvas – seven by teen feet – beneath her.

She first started to draw with charcoal and made lines clustering in the center of the big canvas. The lines suggested forms but only as an armature for what followed. She then laid on the turpentine-thinned colors, blue and pink and salmon and red and sea-foam green, watching as they pooled and stained. The blue flared to the sides from a central fulcrum of pink and red, playing in and around the charcoal underdrawing, which is both respected and ignored. After three hours she stopped and called her studio-mate Friedel Dzubas to take a look. Neither of them had seen anything like it before.

There seemed to be no order. Angry detractors would say it looked like a rag for wiping brushes. Helen felt each element was poised on a fragile edge of clarity, even of flaring neatness, like a wave risen to perfection at the moment before it spends its energy and falls apart. Spontaneity and structure seemed to flow through each other without ever touching, making something buoyantly free and vulnerably honest. She called the painting Mountains and Sea and signed it neatly in the lower right corning, date 10/26/52.

She did meet Pollock himself through her friend Celemt Greenberg in 1950 which she dated for five years. Pollock himself, enforcing what she already knew but needed to hear: namely, that no art is good “intellectually,” the greatest paintings are the ones that deliver a “charge.”


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