Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928)
Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928)

Saturn Revisited

Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928)
Saturn Revisited
signed 'Frankenthaler' (lower right); signed again, titled and dated 'Frankenthaler "Saturn Revisited" 1964' (on the overlap)
acrylic on canvas
84¼ x 53 in. (214 x 134.2 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1968
B. Rose, Frankenthaler, New York, 1974, pl. 142 (illustrated in color).
St. Louis Art Museum, Contemporary Masterpieces from the Shoenberg Collection, December 1981-January 1982.

Lot Essay

Among the many ground-breaking painters who flourished during the Post-War era in New York, Helen Frankenthaler was responsible for some of the most daring and inventive experiments with color. Saturn Revisited of 1964 immerses the viewer in an unalloyed experience of vibrant, pulsing fields of color. Rendered in thinned washes of pigment, this canvas' richly-hued surface appears almost alive, its liquid forms suggesting an eternal state of flux.

In 1962, Frankenthaler started to use new acrylic paints, which she preferred since they dried faster than oils and would not fade on raw canvas, or show the bleeding of turpentine, as oil pigments tend to do. As demonstrated in the present work, this allowed the contours of her poured shapes to retain greater integrity, which she embraced.

Between the time that she painted this major canvas and when the Shoenbergs acquired it, Frankenthaler reached a new peak in her career. In 1969, she was celebrated in an impressive retrospective at the Whitney Museum in New York. Then, in 1972, she was the subject of a major monograph by Barbara Rose. That study justly praises Frankenthaler's achievements: "In her life as in her art, Frankenthaler has said that she is interested primarily in growth and development. Throughout her career, she has been faithful to these principles. As one traces the course of her work, one sees a steady maturation and an unwillingness to rest with any solution -- no matter how successful. Coupled with this resistance to the facile is an iron-willed determination to face and confront the issues of the moment. Courage and staying power are rare in any age. In our own, Frankenthaler's combination of these qualities is an incalculable asset not only to American art but to the future of painting in general. Her paintings are not merely beautiful. They are statements of great intensity and significance about what it is to stay alive, to face crisis and survive, to accept maturity with grace and even joy" (B. Rose, Frankenthaler, New York, 1972, p. 105-6).

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