About the Exhibition
We’re thrilled to present Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown, an exhibition of paintings by one of the most influential abstract artists of her time. The exhibition—one of the largest in PAAM’s history—focuses on the work Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) created in Provincetown between 1950 and 1969, offering a new perspective on this aspect of her oeuvre.
Curated by Lise Motherwell, a stepdaughter of the artist and PAAM Board President, and Elizabeth Smith, Founding Executive Director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation (HFF), the exhibition is on view from July 6 through September 2, 2018.
PAAM Executive Director Christine McCarthy states, “A major part of PAAM’s mission is to bring works created in Provincetown back to where they were made, and to identify the threads that link the artists who made them with America’s oldest continuous art colony. This significant body of Frankenthaler’s work represents an important period in American art history, and we are thrilled to be working with the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation and museum collections from around the country to make the exhibition a reality.”
In 1950, at the encouragement of art critic Clement Greenberg, Helen Frankenthaler studied briefly in Provincetown with Hans Hofmann. Following her marriage to Robert Motherwell in 1958, she spent more than a decade of summers living and working there. Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown presents key examples of Frankenthaler’s work, beginning with those made in that first summer at Hofmann’s studio school, but focusing on the period from the late 1950s through 1969, shortly before her marriage to Motherwell ended.
The exhibition includes intimately scaled works Frankenthaler made while studying with Hofmann and large canvases that reference the sea and landscape of Provincetown, painted in her various studios there. It also features photographs, letters, and memorabilia that shed light on the artist’s process, with an emphasis on the meaning of the place and its impact on her development as a painter.
Lise Motherwell and Elizabeth Smith added, “We are extremely pleased to bring work Helen Frankenthaler created during her Provincetown summers to PAAM. Provincetown’s relaxed atmosphere and extraordinary landscape provided a place to enjoy family and friends and the time and space to move her experimental painting practice in new directions. The works and archival materials we have brought together reveal how Frankenthaler’s Provincetown summers stimulated her artistic creativity and influenced her developing style.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a foreword by Christine McCarthy; essays by the exhibition’s curators, Lise Motherwell and Elizabeth Smith; art historian Daniel Belasco; and Alicia Longwell, Chief Curator, and Terrie Sultan, Director, Parrish Art Museum. Also included is a chronology of Helen Frankenthaler’s years in Provincetown. Published by PAAM, the catalogue will be distributed by Yale University Press.
An expanded version of the exhibition will travel to the Parrish Art Museum, in Water Mill, New York, where it will be on view from August 4, 2019–October 27, 2019.
ABOUT HELEN FRANKENTHALER
Helen Frankenthaler was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. Through her invention of the soak-stain technique, she expanded the possibilities of abstract painting, while at times referencing figuration and landscape in unique ways. She produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound and continues to grow. Her work is represented in museum collections worldwide and has been the subject of numerous national and international exhibitions and substantial publications.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Lise Motherwell is a retired psychologist who had a clinical practice for more than 25 years. She is President of the Board of PAAM, Vice President of the Board of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and immediate Past-Chair of the Board of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy Foundation. A daughter of Robert Motherwell and a step-daughter of Helen Frankenthaler, she recently co-curated an exhibition for PAAM entitled Motherwell: Beside the Sea, and has written articles and essays on various artists.
Elizabeth Smith, Founding Executive Director of the New York-based Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, is an art historian, curator, author, and educator. She formerly held curatorial positions at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she has organized exhibitions, published, taught, and lectured widely in the visual arts and architecture.
PUBLIC PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
FRIDAY, JULY 6 | 11AM-3PM
Members Only Preview
PAAM members are invited to an exclusive viewing, prior to the public opening, of Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown.
We’ll be closing down the entire Museum to everyone except PAAM members to show our appreciation for your ongoing support. Museum Membership is key to making exhibitions like Abstract Climates a reality.
This is truly for members only: the single guest admission offered as part of your PAAM membership is not valid for this preview. Non-members will have to wait until 8pm that night for the public opening or, even better: become a member! We’ll be registering new members (or re-joiners) as they arrive, and anyone can join or renew at any time leading up to the preview online, by phone (508-487-1750), or at the Museum Front Desk (open daily at 11am).
FRIDAY, JULY 6 | 8-10PM | FREE
The public is warmly invited to the grand opening of Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown.
SATURDAY, JULY 7 | 3PM | $15 GENERAL ADMISSION, $5 FOR MEMBERS
Helen and High Water
A Lecture by John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Distinguished Curator and Lecturer at the Princeton University Art Museum; and Consultant for Special Exhibitions at Gagosian Gallery.
SATURDAY, JULY 14 | 3PM | $15 GENERAL ADMISSION, $5 FOR MEMBERS
Helen Frankenthaler: From the Heart
A Lecture by Phyllis Tuchman, independent curator, scholar, and art critic.
SPONSORED BY THE HARBOR HOTEL
TUESDAY, JULY 17 | 6PM | $10 GENERAL ADMISSION, FREE FOR PAAM MEMBERS
Ninth Street Women
A Fredi Schiff Levin Lecture by Mary Gabriel, author of Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art.
SPONSORED BY THE HARBOR HOTEL
TUESDAY, JULY 31 | 6PM | $10 GENERAL ADMISSION, FREE FOR PAAM MEMBERS
Frankenthaler in Context
A Fredi Schiff Levin Lecture by Lise Motherwell, co-curator of Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown.
SPONSORED BY WILLIAM RAWN AND JOHN DOUHAN
SATURDAY, AUGUST 11 | 3PM | $15 GENERAL ADMISSION, $5 FOR MEMBERS
Voices from the Artist’s Archives
A Lecture by Avis Berman, writer, curator, and historian of American art, architecture, and culture.
SPONSORED BY THE HARBOR HOTEL
THURSDAY, AUGUST 23 | 6PM | $15 GENERAL ADMISSION, $5 FOR MEMBERS
Frankenthaler: Toward a New Climate
A screening of the 1978 film, produced and directed by Perry Miller Adato.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 | 11AM | $15 GENERAL ADMISSION, $5 FOR MEMBERS
Abstract Expressionists in Provincetown
A panel discussion with Sanford Hirsch, Executive Director, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation; Katy Rogers, Programs Director, Dedalus Foundation; Daniel Belasco, Executive Director, Al Held Foundation; and Karen Wilkin, author, curator, and critic. Moderated by Douglas Dreishpoon, Director, Helen Frankenthaler Catalogue Raisonné.
SPONSORED BY SALT HOUSE INN + THE OLD HOMESTEAD
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 | 6PM | $10 GENERAL ADMISSION, FREE FOR PAAM MEMBERS
Adolph Gottlieb in Provincetown
A Fredi Schiff Levin Lecture by exhibition curator, Sanford Hirsch, Executive Director, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation.
ABOUT THE HELEN FRANKENTHALER FOUNDATION
The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, established and endowed by the artist during her lifetime, became active in 2013, on the closing of Frankenthaler’s estate. The Foundation is dedicated to promoting greater public interest in and understanding of the visual arts. It supports the artist’s legacy through a variety of initiatives, including exhibitions, loans of artworks, research and publications, conservation, grants, educational programs for the public and the scholarly community, and the publishing of a catalogue raisonné. As the principal beneficiary of Frankenthaler’s estate, its holdings include an extensive selection of her work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work. For additional information: www.frankenthalerfoundation.org.