MS. ROSE: Tell me more about that Pollock show, though, what it was about it that hit you? (Unknown). Before Dalton I went to Brearley, as academic as Dalton was progressive. In other words, you might look at a room full of chairs, two identical chairs without ever referring to the "chairyness" of it on paper, you might put a yellow S-shaped thing there and below it a yellow S-shaped thing there, and they're very much the same. MS. ROSE: Did you used to go to The Club? Would have gone out of his way almost [inaudible]. You could become a de Kooning disciple or satellite or mirror, but you could depart from Pollock. When I was fifteen I started going to the Museum (of Modern Art) and a couple of galleries, mostly because of Tamayo, because he was teaching at my high school, Dalton. And for years, before, during, and after Bennington, I mean all the years I knew Clem [Clement Greenberg] and after that, no matter what my major concern in the line of painting was, at the same time I always did easel pictures either out in nature or in my studio. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Well, I think the lines disappear. MS. ROSE: Do you think that Clem had much of an influence on Pollock? No threat. We Didn’t Have a Chance to Say Goodbye By Sabrina Orah Mark January 14, 2021. There was another painting in it by another girl named Jane Meyerhoff which was far less ambitious and a much better picture, and not trying half as hard as my Woman on a Horsewhich was gleaming with Demar varnish and retouching varnish. The second winter I worked for Maude Riley. I don't think the drawing does and I think that for me any picture that works even if it is in the guise of pure color application, if it works, involved drawing. And I never really thought about color at all. There were a lot of jokes but it was very compelling, a shot in the arm, a new vocabulary. artforum.com is a registered trademark of Artforum International Magazine, New York, NY. She's still around. Where, you know, you made that and it's great, he says. I mean it's something one isn't aware of. MS. ROSE: I mean, if you had to say, if you could say what you learned from Pollock, what would you say? It was more of an attitude. We all went to the Club Friday nights. But not, we didn't become really bosom pals 'til then. And still had, by this time Sonya had left the studio. At Bennington, the term I got there, Paul Feeley had just come back, after the war. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yeah, go ahead. I think working on the floor came from Pollock. And the Friedmans, who are old friends of mine, asked me to come to the dinner party that they were having, a lot of people. I had stayed in New York a term after high school—I was sixteen—I stayed in New York to paint with Tamayo. And for me, and I always say this, whether it's a Titian or a [Kenneth] Noland, the ones that come off work in that depth and the color perhaps it is divine and the thing that makes it work, but it is line color. And you said, what about this in relation to that? There are two words that are applied to me often that I think are very wrong but there aren't any other words that I can think of at the moment that would --. The New Gallery? What's his name, what was it, Fletcher Martin. Then, individual paintings evoked specific responses. He just didn't choose to be or couldn't be. I knew that what I was making was not like in general the Gestalt feeling, emphasis, of what Al, Grace, and the others were doing. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Paul [Feeley] had enormous vitality. She received her Bachelor degree from Bennington College in 1948, and began her extensive travels. He was very nice. MS. ROSE: When did you first see? And he said, no, let's go some place to drink. Well, my father being a Supreme Court judge and --. Describe your relationship with Jackson. I mean, have you read any of Mark? That is, I looked at and was influenced by both Pollock and de Kooning and eventually felt that there were many more possibilities for me out of the Pollock vocabulary. MS. FRANKENTHALER: He was lovely. I used to try to work from a given, made shape. MS. ROSE: I mean what would he praise, or what would he put down? MS. ROSE: Oh, you see this is very interesting because I feel John Marin and you were --. WorldCat record id: 495595062. That was when I became very friendly with Grace and All and Harry and Friedl and had a real studio life there. I'm trying to pick up where we left off. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yeah. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Oh, yes. These were not the first I did on the floor but the first two I remember that were done on the floor were Mountains and Sea, and that was in October '52. It was in 1946. A splendid, large woman. And that's the difference between the striped wallpaper and a great Noland. I just said that because I do still have that picture. Now I was never drawn to the idea of a stick dipped in a huge can. Would you mind coming back to the house? You made a picture in a way that was a -- . But interesting. In May 1953, the two painters, who lived in Washington, made a now-historic pilgrimage to Frankenthaler's studio. I mean you remember going? It was a marvelous marriage. What year was that? And I devised a game of, without showing anything recognizable would draw a state of mind: you're frightened, you're jealous, what happened yesterday, your sister, weather -- . I got into every contest. We had a baseball game on. I mean our lives were in each other. He used to pick them out from,he had a very big class and very often he would take one of mine as an example of this works, say. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Oh, I did a wonderful little picture of the inside of that place. MS. FRANKENTHALER: No, I graduated from Dalton in, let's say, June of 1945. And I became very friendly with Frieda so that I made new friends that were --. MS. ROSE: The difference is between applied and drawn color. MS. FRANKENTHALER: It might have been a peaceful place to sit down, or it was both landscape and man-made. MS. ROSE: You brought him into the studio in the fall of '52. Then you might forget the whole point of departure would be chairs to begin with and look at the picture and things and think, "Well, it needs a blue rectangle," let's say. I was then very involved through the beginning of December. And we made a date for drinks. Are we still on? There was a lot else going on that had to do with children and summer drama. And we would really sift [inaudible] every inch of what it was that worked, or if it didn't, why. **********. MS. FRANKENTHALER: No. I mean a third, and a third, and a third: a third turpentine, a third linseed oil, a third varnish. In other words, the great Cezannes that are not all filled in. I had the studio with Sonya. And Jackson appreciated, needed, and relied on this. I think I'd already been using enamel but probably knowing he did but maybe not having seen him with the paint pots. HELEN FRANKENTHALER: Well, I said that over the years there have never been more than four or five people whose eyes I respect and in some way they do affect my work and sometimes even they don't, but I don't have a feeling that there are, even though there might be many people that liked or disliked my work from time to time, I don't feel that they're on the periphery watching me and affecting what I'm … I tried, didn’t like it, went back to oil, then tried it again. And in a sense that sharpened my eye for abstract pictures. MS. ROSE: Well I know that newspaper headline that you showed me when you were born. WorldCat record id: 495595062 Painters; New York, N.Y. Frankenthaler and Motherwell were married, and subsequently divorced. Maybe, but nothing sticks in my mind. MS. ROSE: No? Do you remember? No, I have a feeling it was 1953-1954 maybe. Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, and Grace Hartigan at the opening of Frankenthaler's solo exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, February 12, 1957. And sometimes he didn't know himself. All rights reserved. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yes, but not much. And I looked at it. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yeah. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. [Inaudible] white and it was very Bohemian. I also didn't want to paint figures in my pictures. The people I talked pictures with or those who encouraged me to make discoveries included Clement Greenberg, Friedel Dzubas, Grace Hartigan, Sonja Rudikoff. But I think it gives different things to different people depending on their--. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yeah. And the meantime I stayed in touch with Dalton as sort of a post-graduate student and continued with Tamayo. That this was the message in life and what we owed this master. MS. ROSE: About this painting of Pollock's that you saw. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Yes, I remember bringing back to Paul a catalogue with a reproduction of, one show, [Jean] Dubuffet and [Henri] Matisse. And I was not a good athlete. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Terrible. An Interview with Helen Frankenthaler How did you first get into painting? MS. FRANKENTHALER: I don't. MS. FRANKENTHALER: Oh, it was marvelous. [Inaudible] which is a logical step. MS. ROSE: Did you know that it was god-awful? I went to my grandmother's place. But I think that many of the camp followers are empty. So I did. Well, I always use this word and I'm always dissatisfied with it because it's not what I mean at all, but a surreal side. Conversations Across Collections: Considering Art and Activism with Juan Sánchez, Size: Sound recording: 1 Sound tape reel, 7 in. Whether I was Clem's girl or was somebody else there or not, you know. And one doesn't have a civilized or interesting friendship to exchange with somebody like that, I mean unless you're dragged down into it. I remember bringing it to class. But that, if Ken was there then, I don't think I met him then. Whereas Gloria and I have never made it and never will. Like Cubism which it came out of, painting in the de Kooning, Gorky idiom was first revealing, then inhibiting to me. No One Belonged Here By Bette Howland January 14, 2021. I saw a Dubuffet show at Pierre Matisse in the late forties and came back with a catalog to Bennington. MS. FRANKENTHALER: That he would say? I happened to pick colors fortunately that fit into the push and pull because I drew them that way. And was very depressed. And that, also with shapes and stripes, is a beautiful picture." MS. FRANKENTHALER: Well, Marjorie took me and the first picture I remember talking in front of, and I'm sure that there were many before it, but my first memory of talking about a painting with somebody was Marjorie taking me to either that show, though I think, I know the painting is in the permanent collection of the Museum, is the melting watch [The Persistence of Memory, 1931] of [Salvador] Dalí. Forgot it. I did it on cardboard. If you haven't heard of Helen Frankenthaler before, you can find several interviews she's done on YouTube. MS. ROSE: It must have developed your critical faculties. And it sort of laid an egg up there. WorldCat record id: 495595062 Painters; New York, N.Y. Frankenthaler and Motherwell were married, and subsequently divorced. And I often force myself to try something new just to “move on” and see the results. The first gallery I went into was the one in which he showed (Valentine Dudensing). I mean specific things, kind of crucial things happened? And Clem, who has a great sense of timing, mostly because he doesn't know he has it, as we got off the elevator, it was before Janis had taken over part of that gallery, it was enormous, as we got off the elevator he said, "Now you're on your own. Helen Frankenthaler, American Abstract Expressionist painter whose brilliantly coloured canvases have been much admired for their lyric qualities. Clem was there with Danny. When did you first start drawing and painting and caring about art. I think all totally abstract pictures—the best ones that really come off—Newman, Pollock, Noland—have tremendous space; perspective space despite the emphasis on flat surface. And for some reason, probably enough beer, and the hour, and a real interest in this person, I, out of habit, saying, "Why do you think you're doing this," "Why is that?" I mean according to how much water you put in it. I mean nobody ever talks about it. It is a totally abstract picture but it had that additional quality in it for me. Once when he came to New York from Long Island [New York] to have a drink with Clem and I stayed for a little while because I knew their relationship was a kind of code, and different, unusual. you know. And then I was in a studio with Friedl --. And he said, "Oh, I love Bennington! MS. FRANKENTHALER: But there you're a member of a team, and I'm not a competitive athlete. In other words, where and how much to put the crescent-shaped black line. I find, for example, that I will buy a quantity of paint but I hate it when it dries up and I haven't used it. We would go to the Schrafft Bar or the Ritz Tower Bar. I forget his name. And I had done watercolors at Black Mountain and some paintings in my studio that still really hold up beautifully and that are only mine. The interview was conducted by Barbara Rose for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. 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