“I am very poor at naming [paintings]… I don’t like sentimental titles. One names a picture in order to refer to it”
–Helen Frankenthaler, painter
The painter and printmaker Helen Frankenthaler was among the most influential artists of the mid-twentieth-century. Introduced early in her career to major artists such as and (and later marrying ), Frankenthaler was influenced by Abstract Expressionist painting practices, but developed her own distinct approach to the style. She invented the “soak-stain” technique, in which she poured turpentine-thinned paint onto canvas, producing luminous color washes that appeared to merge with the canvas and deny any hint of three-dimensional illusionism. Her breakthrough gave rise to the movement promoted by the influential art critic as the “next big thing” in American art: , marked by airy compositions that celebrated the joys of pure color and gave an entirely new look and feel to the surface of the canvas. Later in her career, Frankenthaler turned her attention to other artistic media, most notably woodcut, in which she achieved the quality of painting, in some cases replicating the effects of her soak-stain process.