Abstract Expressionism: Helen Frankenthaler's Mountains And Sea

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Helen Frankenthaler’s Mountains and Sea is often treated like a bridge, the half-way point between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Abstraction. But there is so much more than meets the eye. Frankenthaler pioneered the soak stain technique. But this accomplishment, and her very artistry, is often qualified with statements about her gender. Abstract Expressionism was undoubtedly a male-dominant artistic movement. The immediate cause is to now theorize how performance in Abstract Expressionism, through the lens of Helen Frankenthaler’s Mountains and Sea, aligns with gender performativity according to Judith Butler.
Helen Frankenthaler was an artist who paved her way in the Abstract Expressionism movement. This movement occurred primarily from the 1940s through the 1950s. Abstract Expressionism places great emphasis on the performance of the painter. Works by Jackson Pollock, for example, plainly show how the artist’s movements literally create the artwork. The artist’s hand is an interest widely discussed in relation to Abstract Expressionism. It is said that Helen Frankenthaler, like any of the female artist of
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This painting takes place on an unprimed canvas. The overall composition is a combination of calming colors. The gestures however seem to tell a different story. There is a contrast of colors and shapes. It can be argued that the colors are feminine while the gestures are masculine. Let’s explore that a little further. Women are often categorized as soft and gentle. The colors chosen in this composition portray that same tone. Pink carries a strong female connotation. Most of this composition is pink. Therefore, abiding by traditional gender stereotypes, Mountains and Sea must be a feminine painting. What can be said then about using blue in this painting? A pale pink is the dominant color in use in this painting. However the blue in the composition is competing for equal

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