New York

Helen Frankenthaler

Emmerich Gallery

Hanging into and down the surfaces of Helen Frankenthaler’s new paintings are soft, sodden stretches of color, of which some titles—Cinnamon Burn, Chalk Zone—are fair indications of their sensory allusiveness. Frames are as arbitrary in their containment of masses as edges are meandering in their sometimes “cut” or blotted presence. One finds very little incident in this languid, often pastel, and occasionally bilious terrain. Some very delicate adjustments of energy and dissonance are necessary to bring off her particular suspension of forces, and these, for the most part, are lacking in this show. It is as if the dreamy waywardness which she has cultivated with pungent effect in the past was not, this time, accompanied by enough selective or critical rigor. Such an absence makes many canvases look slack and dilute, anti-climactic despite some high saturated fussing at the margins. At other times there are eccentric incompletions coupled with awkward posts or precipices reminiscent of Arthur Dove’s self-rounding pantheism. This reference seems to have crept inadvertently into an art whose larger inadvertence always seems to have been Surrealist derived. Evidence of the latter can still be seen in some edges enough drained of pigmentation that they appear to curve into the grain and claim a kind of plasmic body—like that of a giant paramecium. These offerings do not advance or take away very much from the dynamics of Frankenthaler’s art, which now are hardly that at all, but rather an esthetic marking of time.

Max Kozloff