WASHINGTON — Up the elevator whooshes to the fifth floor of an East 57th Street building in the center of Manhattan’s art world. The elevator opens on a dark, discreet, unpeopled corridor. At the end of the corridor loom the truffle-colored double doors of the Andre Emmerich Gallery. They are locked. There is a bell.

You ring for admission and if you are a prospective buyer, or have made an appointment to view a painting, the doors swing open. They reveal a giant red light of a painting that stops you in your tracks with its beauty: It glows bright and bigger than life, 7 by 17 feet, on one white wall. Walking up to it is like stepping into the vortex of a huge ruby, full of pulsing light: bursts and glints and streaks of rouge red, plum, scarlet and scarlet’s darker sister, of garnet, cranberry, brick red, maroon, all luminous as though seen through a jeweler’s loupe, interspersed with shards of light in other colors: black, powder blue, gold. In one corner is the dark, attenuated signature of its creator, Helen Frankenthaler, the woman who art critic Barbara Rose says “changed painting” through her color-stained canvases as an Abstract Expressionist. This painting, acrylic on canvas, is titled “Carousel.” Its price tag: $50,000.

None of the Frankenthalers are for sale in a major retrospective of her graphic works which has just opened at the Phillips Collection in Washington. The exhibit of over 90 final proofs and prints spans almost 20 years of her career, and includes woodcuts, lithographs, offset, intaglio, and relief techniques. Although Frankenthaler’s fame rests on her painting, the exhibit includes work which she herself describes as being as good as any of her paintings.

Excerpt from The Christian Science Monitor, “Helen Frankenthaler”