At the Archives

Helen Frankenthaler: Guiding Red

Title: A crew installing Helen Frankenthaler’s painting, Guiding Red

Date: 1977

Description: Photo shows four men supporting one corner of Frankenthaler’s painting, in the mezzanine of World Trade Center II.

Creator: Emmerich, Andre, 1924-2007, photographer

It’s an archive type of day! Helen Frankenthaler is considered one of the most influential artists of the mid-twentieth century. Influenced by abstract expressionist, she later 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. She went on to pioneer color field painting, airy compositions that celebrated the joys of pure color and gave an entirely new look and feel to the surface of the canvas.

The 33 -foot-high work was titled “Guiding Red,” because as she has said, “I was guiding the red — and the red was guiding me”.

Image Courtesy of the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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