PRINT April 2012


Helen Frankenthaler


LEARNING OF HELEN FRANKENTHALER’S DEATH this past December jolted my sense of time, though it is hard to say precisely why. It is as if past and present have become muddled, as if somehow, in some section of my cultural subconscious, the news of the loss had preceded its actual occurrence—had preceded it, and been accepted, absorbed: déjà vu, with no shiver in its wake. “She should have died hereafter,” says Macbeth on learning of the untimely death of his wife. In Frankenthaler’s case, or at least in the crucial matter of her reputation, the loss seems to have been inflicted long ago. Nor is this sensation the function of her longevity alone. In a season when the London museums are toasting the work of several art-world elders—Gerhard Richter, now eighty; Yayoi Kusama, who is eighty-three; David Hockney, a mere stripling at seventy-five—it comes as a shock to

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