Research Assessment 2
Subject: Helen Frankenthaler’s exhibition at the Clark Art Institute
Works Cited (MLA 8 citation[s])
Princenthal, Nancy. "Rules Set Fearlessly Aside." New York Times, 1 Sept. 2017, p. C13(L). Science In Context. Accessed 14 Sept. 2017.
Although I enjoy painting and consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the subject, I still struggle to understand meaning behind painters’ work. In an effort to address this issue, I have decided to study different painters and their paintings. I originally intended to study Richard Diebenkorn because I was intrigued by his shape-focused artwork Ms. Vernon introduced to me last spring. While searching for valuable documents, however, I stumbled on this article detailing a paradoxical painter that caught my eye. Understanding abstract has never been an easy task for me, so I thought looking into an artist who worked with just that would be useful. Admittedly, there are many abstract painters; my reasoning for studying Helen Frankenthaler was the author’s mention of how Frankenthal abstract painting seemed to portray realistic, or naturalistic- as the author puts it- subject matters.
Everything about Frankenthal seems contradictory. How does someone paint realistic subjects through abstract painting? Why did she decide to do this? Frankenthal seems to have valued risk-taking above everything when it came to painting; maybe because risks can result in inspiring creativity. The author claims Frankenthal did not believe in any rules; in fact, she disregarded various norms of painting. Her paintings were not intended to have any subject matters, but still managed to display, ever so slightly, the outdoors environment in which she painted. It seems impossible, yet a quick search a Frankenthal paintings defend the author’s claims.
I was caught by one of the paintings I saw, “Redshift”. The all-red painting, in the small google window seemed to show a dark horizon line. Two people- one close (on the left) and another far (on the right)- seem to be looking down, but they are not. Well, they are not even people, just a few blotches of paint. I do not know how she did it or why, but I instantly realized something. The painting intrigued me, an abstract painting; usually that is not the case. At first glance it seems to display contradictory emotions. The deep reds look passionate, but also eerie. They almost seem to haunt the people-blotches I saw earlier.
Frankenthal’s risk-taking seems to have paid off. Not only did she grow to become a successful artists, but also painted images I have never seen before. Each seems to portray some form of contradiction; they all intrigue me. Of course, I cannot be certain, but I feel as though I am beginning to understand and analyze paintings. It is undeniably motivating. Over time, this career is becoming more approachable. I now know, the rules attributed to painting are not set in stone; they are merely guidelines to understanding others’ painting. Maybe an art school is not meant to teach me how to paint, but, instead, meant to guide me into developing myself into a painter. Maybe I should begin looking at all my teacher’s lessons as guidelines, and not rules. Maybe I should begin taking more risks; not because Frankenthal did it, but because it could allow me to discover something unique, as Frankenthal did. In fact, that is what I will do.
I have no doubt, this perspective centered on risk-taking will benefit me. I have already begun stepping out of my comfort zone by painting more; taking more risks seems like the next logical step. I am excited to see where ambition can take me. I am a student after all, learning should be my primary goal. I should have no fear. Failure is inevitable, but it is not debilitating, it is motivating. In my art class I will soon be able to paint whatever I would like; it will be the perfect opportunity to begin taking some more risks.
This article has been invaluable in motivating me. Not only has it allowed me to see my analytical growth, but has also motivated me to grow as a painter. There is absolutely no doubt I will use this motivation. Only, a few questions do arise. What will I paint, in other words, what will be my risks, and how will I work towards taking these risks? I have always wondered what a painting of mine would look like if I painted it without contacts or glasses. That will be my first risk, a sort of blind painting. Ms. Vernon always stressed the importance of painting shapes over detail, and painting like this could allow me to see shapes more clearly. This could be a great way to follow her advice and grow as a painter.