Thursday, July 27, 2017

As in nature

OK--I confess I wasn't sure about going to see the two Helen Frankenthaler's exhibits at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Sure I knew her work and had seen a number of her paintings scattered here and there throughout different museums but it always struck me as just a part of a larger movement of art from the last half of the 20th century. How ignorant that sounds, doesn't it?

Still it was a major show and only an hour away. The Boston Globe was calling her work "fearless". Didn't I owe it to myself to see it and try to learn more? When else would I get such a wonderful opportunity? It was a rainy Tuesday what could be better? So my DH and I went on an adventure. After all my studio in Shelburne Falls is only about an hour from The Clark.

The woodcuts in the first exhibit No Rules were amazing. So many different colors. So complex and yet so cohesive. Such large works. Sure, I didn't understand all of them. Did I really get the snow on the pines in the woodcut by the same name? No. But the large and I mean large blue woodcut with so many colors and the trees--I could have lingered for hours. Still it didn't hit me I should take pictures to study and absorb. There are quilts waiting to be made after I digest the magnificence of these works.

Then it was on the paintings in the other building. As in Nature. And all I can say is WOW!!!

As in Nature--the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler at the Clark 2017

These works were huge and powerful. Beautifully displayed and so much going on. It was hard to absorb them all. There was Tethys with its darker spaces. Almost a story there. When I glanced at the explanation I could see it was based on a mythical story which I didn't absorb but just looked at those complex colors and strange shapes almost going into another space.

Tethys by Helen Frankenthaler

The more intimate Birth of the Blues.

Birth of the Blues--Helen Frankenthaler

The expanse of Off White Square. So big and majestic and powerful. It took up its own wall.

Off White Square--Helen Frankenthaler

I lingered at Scorpio. One of those works that demanded study and being. Such amazing colors. So many wonderful shapes.

Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

Just look at the wonderful details in this painting.

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

What is not to love about these colors and shapes. The motion that echoes throughout.

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

And the story  that wants to be told. Don't you love how it is all connected in its own way?

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

Oh there is so much here. I want to go back again and again while the show is still here until I learn all that I can. Then maybe they will become part of my language.  Have you seen it yet? What did you think? The woodcut show No Rules runs until September 24 and the painting show As in Nature goes until October 9. For more information on the Clark Art Museum

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