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Helen Frankenthaler (1928–2011) was a major figure in the second generation of abstract expressionist artists. She became the first American painter after Jackson Pollock to see the implications of the color staining of raw canvas to create an integration of color and ground in which foreground and background cease to exist. This highly intuitive process, known as "stain painting," became the hallmark of her style and enabled her to create color-filled canvases that seemed to float on air. In 1958, she married another pivotal artist of the movement, Robert Motherwell. Frankenthaler's work involved both painting and prints, using each of these mediums to explore pictorial space through the interaction of color and line on a particular surface.

The stain technique Frankenthaler made famous remained an integral part of her work and it can be seen running through her entire oeuvre. Although the paintings are abstract, a strong suggestion of landscape is often apparent, and they have been praised for their lyrical qualities. Frankenthaler’s art is held in the collection of every major museum of modern art including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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