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Helen Frankenthaler, Vessel, 1961.Photo: Jordan Tinker, courtesy of Helen Frankenthaler. © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Tate Gifted Helen Frankenthaler Painting by Artist’s Foundation

The Tate has received a gift of a major painting by the late American Abstract Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler—one of the few women artists in the postwar period to gain international recognition during her lifetime—from the artist’s New York–based foundation. Titled Vessel, 1961, the work, which was painted using Frankenthaler’s signature soak-stain technique during the early stages of her career, is the first piece by the artist to enter the Tate’s collection and is currently on view at Tate Modern, alongside four other paintings on loan from the foundation.

Vessel transforms our ability to represent postwar American abstraction, while also reflecting the vital contribution made by women artists, such as Frankenthaler, during a critical moment in art history,” said Gregor Muir, director of the Tate’s collection of international art. To make Vessel, Frankenthaler poured thinned oil paint onto a raw canvas placed directly on her studio floor. This allowed her to create pools and lines of paint, which she moved with brushes and other tools to produce washes of color.

Commenting on the donation, Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, said: “The gift of Vessel marks an exciting opportunity to further advance Frankenthaler’s legacy. We hope this work—one of her most significant paintings from the 1960s—coupled with its presentation at Tate in a monographic room of loans from the foundation’s collection will present myriad opportunities for audiences throughout the UK to discover and revisit Frankenthaler’s work, and continue to inspire new generations of artists across the pond.”

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