New York

Helen Frankenthaler

Emmerich Gallery

At Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler continues her sure, airy, gentle ways. Stride contains the suggestion of a partial human figure which, like all such figures, implies its own history, the means by which it came to be incomplete. The means in Stride is mild—not dismemberment or harsh spotlighting but casually restricted attention; the hip-line and canvas’s left edge, which in their different ways crop the figure, are not read as violent.

Stride, in its orange glory, hovers. Commune’s dark green is more sober, but it hovers as well. True, read as pure area, the figure simply “occurs” within the canvas’s total square. But read as a form with weight, it hangs or floats near the upper edge. It also hovers, in a sense, between two and three dimensions; its matte tones, identical with that of the rest of the canvas, suggest its being part of a total three-dimensional field. Yet at the same time its internal color variations and its strong form make it advance as a figure imposed on a field that is visually antecedent. In addition, the figure’s dark color makes it recede, makes it suggest a kind of aperture or penetration. Frankenthaler’s ambiguities, though often quiet, are very rich.

Jean-Louis Bourgeois