The Dulwich Picture Gallery will present an exhibition examining the Abstract Expressionist’s woodcuts.

Helen Frankenthaler
Madame Butterfly, 2000 One hundred-
two color woodcut
© 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / DACS / Tyler Graphic Ltd., Mount
Kisco, New York .Photograph
credit: Tim Pyle, courtesy Helen Frankenthaler
Foundation.

On display from May 2021, Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty will open to the public, showcasing the woodcuts by the artist – many of which have not been seen in the UK.

Ranging from Frankenthaler’s first ever woodcut in 1973, to her last work published in 2009, this major print retrospective will bring together 30 works on loan from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, including Madame Butterfly (2000) and East and Beyond (1973) to reveal the enormous diversity in scale and technique in her oeuvre.

Arranged thematically, the exhibition will reveal the charge and energy behind Frankenthaler’s ‘no rules’ approach.

Highlights of the exhibition will include: Frankenthaler’s first woodcut East and Beyond (1973) created by printing onto multiple blocks to avoid negative space. The work holds a sense of tangible colour and form, but at the same time has a fluidity that sets it apart from other artists at the time such as Jasper Johns. Other standout works will include Cameo (1980) and Freefall (1993), which further demonstrate how Frankenthaler accepted the challenge of woodcut printmaking and found ways to make it yield to her approach. 

Talking about the exhibition Jane Findlay, Exhibition Curator and Head of Programme & Engagement at Dulwich Picture Gallery, said: “This is a truly special opportunity for visitors to get up close to Frankenthaler’s phenomenal works – all of which have never been shown before in this country – in the intimate spaces of Dulwich Picture Gallery. There is something magical about how she breathes life into such a rigid medium, retaining the energy and dynamism – that born at once feeling – that you see in her painting. And with her proofs and process explored alongside we’ll show the painstaking work behind these beguiling works – revealing just how accomplished Frankenthaler was in modulating control and spontaneity in her art.”

Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty will run at the Dulwich Picture Gallery from the 27th May until the 28th November 2021.