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Trailblazers: Centuries of Female Abstraction

Moon Spin

Moon Spin
signed 'Frankenthaler' (lower left); signed again and dated 'Frankenthaler 1975' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
86 x 32 ½ in. (218.4 x 82.6 cm.)
Painted in 1975.
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
Private collection, New York
Solomon & Co., New York
Private collection, circa late-1970s
Ameringer Yohe Gallery, New York, 2007
Private collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
London, Amar Gallery, Hiding in Plain Sight, September-December 2018.
Further details
REWIND, a feminist artist collective, will be creating a custom non-fungible token (NFT) in response to this lot for the buyer. At the buyer’s request, Christie’s will make an introduction to REWIND, and the buyer can work directly with REWIND to obtain the NFT directly following the close of the auction. Christie’s is not involved with the creation or content related to these NFTs.

Please find the link to REWIND’s website to learn more about their work here: www.rewindcollective.com.

Brought to you by

Rachael White Young
Rachael White Young Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of Core Market Sales

Lot Essay

A true work of art grows on you. It communicates order and truth.… Great art is a manifestation of that magic, that indescribable thing that is the gift. It had to be created. That’s part of the gift, and the strong will of art. The making of art starts with chaos and is resolved into order, which can make it beautiful.
—Helen Frankenthaler

Standing at a heroic seven feet in height, Moon Spin is a divine example of Helen Frankenthaler’s pioneering oeuvre of abstract painting. Executed in 1975, the present lot is exemplary of the artist’s work in the decade—shifting from lyrical, freed forms of diluted color that tumble and spill into each other to the vivid and bold, resulting in a mature technique of great washes and potent layers of veiling contrasting color.
Indeed, the present lot’s golden haze encompassing a modulation of pinks and whites among an earthly surface of olive green delivers an all-over composition of atmospheric surface and incarnation of natural beauty characteristic to Frankenthaler’s most coveted paintings from the 1970s. A diaphanous sweeping of pearl dawns on the vertical canvas, swallowing a body of flourishing marigold. Aptly titled, Frankenthaler’s dynamic dabs and streaks of subtle pigments evoke a change of time and light among the earth’s atmosphere, capturing the golden oranges of a dying sun forfeiting to a new authority of nocturnal light. Here, the artist’s newfound painterly attention to brushstroke and deep interest of light and shadow finds itself in the tradition of her “action painting” predecessors such as Jackson Pollock and Hans Hofmann along with the traditional Venetian masters of oil painting. Frankenthaler’s verticality of form and soft gradations of light cannot help but remind one of Correggio’s sublime depiction of Jupiter transforming himself into the soft presence of a midnight blue cloud to enchant and caress the lovely nymph Io, a painting which Frankenthaler saw while it was on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a trip with Clement Greenberg in March of 1952. Frankenthaler has not only masterfully captured the subtle ambience of the introduction of nightfall, but she has also painted the very movement of it.
The sheer visual impact of her work is made all the more consuming when stoked by the artist’s fervor and expertise, cementing Frankenthaler as a true pillar of 20th century American painting. Moon Spin is a celestial masterpiece and testament to Helen Frankenthaler’s ingenuity of medium and devotion to a life spent painting.

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