About the Exhibition


Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928–2011) had a long-standing, if ambivalent and indirect, relationship to the tradition of landscape painting. A leading member of the mid-twentieth-century Abstract Expressionist group, she continually tested the limits of the genre, at times inserting elements of representation into her work—making the abstract elements all the more pronounced. For Frankenthaler, that subject matter generally related to nature and the landscape: an autumnal color palette, a watery layer of paint, a title hinting at nature, or even a specific place. From her earliest, reputation-making work of the 1950s, to her late, experimental paintings of the 1990s, this complicated relationship to landscape presents a constant tension in her art.

As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings presents twelve of the artist’s large-scale paintings, made over the course of her long career, that engage with this tension between abstraction and representation. Spanning the full range of styles, techniques, and formal preoccupations that Frankenthaler explored over five decades of work, these paintings are primarily abstract, yet reveal recognizable elements from the landscape that function, paradoxically, to reinforce their abstraction: as in nature, but not as in nature.


As in Nature is made possible by the generous contribution of Denise Littlefield Sobel and the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts. Major support is provided by Dena and Felda Hardymon, with additional support from Richard and Carol Seltzer.
The Clark is grateful to the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation for their generous loans.