April 17 Art Minute: Helen Frankenthaler, ‘Blue Jay’

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Helen Frankenthaler's "soak stain" painting Blue Jey

Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928–2011), Blue Jay. Oil on canvas, 1963. 44 3/16 x 64 1/8 inches. Gift of The Woodward Foundation, 1977.52. Gallery 8

Abstract Expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler was a significant participant in the the postwar American art scene, rising to prominence in the 1950s. By the 1960s, Frankenthaler increasingly utilized a technique she referred to as “soak stain,” achieved by painting directly onto an unprimed canvas with turpentine–diluted oil paints. The effect of the soak stain technique is a flat, almost watercolor–like appearance, as seen in Blue Jay.

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