Helen Frankenthaler 1928 – 2011

Helen Frankenthaler has died.

Rejecting 19th century romanticism and ridiculing the cult of beauty was very much at the core of much of the modernist impulse in art. Some early movements and manifestos even argued that an authentic challenge to the cult of beauty required the creation of work that struggled not to be beautiful in a conventional sense.

Beauty, however, did not go gently.

And — as much as anywhere in the body of 20th century modern art — it can be found in the work of Helen Frankenthaler and other 20th century abstract expressionists.

Not all critics welcomed this kind of luminous work into a modern project intent on challenging and even destroying conventional aesthetics.

But by mid-century, Frankenthaler and others could be found simultaneously challenging, destroying, and creating works of sublime beauty.

Helen Frankenthaler, 1957