Friday, March 20, 2015

The number 5 in Frankenthalers: At Crystal Bridges

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge Helen Frankenthaler "Seven Types of Ambiguity," 1957, - oil on canvas, 95 1/2 × 70 1/8 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Inc./Artists Rights Society(ARS), New York. - ROB MCKEEVER. COURTESY GAGOSIAN GALLERY.
  • Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.
  • Helen Frankenthaler "Seven Types of Ambiguity," 1957,oil on canvas, 95 1/2 × 70 1/8 in., Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. © Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Inc./Artists Rights Society(ARS), New York.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced today the acquisition of five works by Helen Frankenthaler, including Frankenthaler's "Seven Types of Ambiguity (1957)" from the Frankenthaler Foundation. 

The works will be displayed in the 1940s to Now gallery, which is being reinstalled with several new acquisitions since the closing of "State of the Art." Other Frankenthalers purchased include paintings "Untitled (1951)" and "Pink Bird Figure II" and works on paper "The Bullfight (1958)" and "Untitled (1980)." "Seven Types of Ambiguity," with its little circle a nod to fellow  Ken Noland, is one of her early stain paintings.

From the museum's press release:

Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, stated, "The Foundation is pleased that these works by Helen Frankenthaler have become part of the distinguished collection of American art at Crystal Bridges. As a newly active foundation, we think it is especially fitting to launch our program of placing important artworks in museums in collaboration with this newly established institution, which is committed to collecting and exhibiting outstanding works of art and prominent in its serious attention to the study and appreciation of American art."

Smith also explained that Helen Frankenthaler retained important works throughout her career as an artist. She bequeathed these to the Foundation, which has determined to make selected examples available for acquisition to institutions interested either in strengthening their representation of her art, or in representing it for the first time, as is the case with Crystal Bridges, toward the goal of furthering the Foundation's educational and charitable missions to support the arts.
click to enlarge "Untitled (1958)" by Ruth Asawa, iron wire, 86 1/2 in. × 32 in. × 32 in.
  • "Untitled (1958)" by Ruth Asawa, iron wire, 86 1/2 in. × 32 in. × 32 in.
Great news about Frankenthaler;  fans have been looking for this artist to be represented since the museum's opening.

Also included in the installation is Ruth Asawa's "Untitled (ca. 1958)," one of her crocheted wire sculptures. Asawa was interned at Rohwer at Jerome in 1942, one of thousands of Japanese Americans and locked up in camps by the United States during World War II. There, she was art editor for the high school yearbook. She learned her weaving technique in Mexico in 1947 and studied with Josef Albers at Black Mountain, according to a website on the artist.

Other announced acquisitions: Robert Rauschenberg’s "The Tower (1957)," Allan D’Arcangelo’s "My Uncle Whiskey’s Bad Habit (1962)," Vija Celmins’ "Untitled (Ham Hock) (1964)," Nancy Grossman’s "Car Horn (1965)," Alma Thomas’ "Lunar Rendezvous — Circle of Flowers (1969)," Roni Horn’s "When Dickinson Shut Her Eyes No. 859: A Doubt If It Be Us (1993)," Mark Tansey’s "Landscape (1994)," and Charles LeDray’s "Rainbow (2012-2014)." Two gifts will also debut: Brice Marden’s "For Carl Andre (1966)" from an anonymous donor and Nancy Graves’s "Fayum-Re (1982)," gift of Agnes Gund.

Director Chad Alligood said in the press release that the new works “help us tell an expanded story of America that now unfolds in this gallery. ... For example, our collection already features a number of iconic Pop Art paintings from artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein that demonstrate the influence of 1960s pop culture. Now, with the addition of groundbreaking sculptural works from this period — Robert Rauschenberg’s "The Tower" and Nancy Grossman’s "Car Horn" — we are also able to explore artists’ use of unconventional, everyday materials, showing how other American artists responded to the explosion of consumer goods during the postwar economic boom. The re-installation focuses on key moments in American history — and how works of art both reflect and shape our understanding of that history and ourselves.”

Some of the gallery will open today; the entire gallery, which will feature 71 works, will be open by the end of March. Though we didn't need another reason to take the Arkansas Times' Art Bus to Crystal Bridges on May 2, when we'll go see "Van Gogh to Rothko," we certainly have one now. (Call 375-2985 for tickets, which include lunch, dinner and tickets to the temporary exhibit.)


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