Helen Frankenthaler’s painting titled “Alloy” in the Benches and Binoculars Exhibition is one piece at the Walker Art Center that caught my attention instantly. I wasn’t initially attracted to it in a positive way though. I picked Frankenthaler’s piece out of the dozens in that exhibit because I do not understand the point of it. It is blobs of different colored paint on a canvas. What the hell is that point of this piece? Could I be making big bucks throwing paint on a canvas and calling it art? I probably could but I’m not going to because to me, there is no point in creating “art” that looks like this piece.
Alloy is an acrylic painting on a larger rectangular canvas. There are blotches of pink, tan, yellow-orange and navy blue “somewhat” flowing throughout the piece. The swashes of pink and tan appear to be almost squeezing the swash of bold yellow-orange. This and the minor curvature of the shapes creates movement throughout the piece. Also in some aspects the swashes of navy blue at the top middle of the piece and the lower left corner have this feeling of being separated from the piece as a whole because they do not press up against the other colors. On the other hand, the contrast between the color choices is really well done. The colors all seem to complement each other well. There is smug or spot above the large stroke of yellow-orange paint though that seems to bleed into the white negative space and that might distract the viewer somewhat.
Helen Frankenthaler is a famous second generation Abstract Expressionist. Her different, new methods and techniques she used to create her art pretty much defined her as an artist and made her work considered art. Her most famous technique when creating art is called staining or Color-Field painting on a cotton, unrolled duck canvas (such as with the piece Alloy). This process consists of pouring diluted paint onto a blank canvas and allowing the colors to seep in, staining the fibers and creating this affect we can see in her work pictured above.
A laid out explanation of Helen Frankenthaler’s thought process behind creating this particular piece of art would allow for a more cohesive understanding of the piece as a whole. The little background information about the artist and her creative process that was found was not enough to even slightly clue me in on the meaning or purpose of her work.