The University of New Mexico Art Museum is one of 10 university art museums selected to receive a collection of Helen Frankenthaler prints and a grant to develop a project or program for the study, presentation, and interpretation of the editions.
The Frankenthaler Prints Initiative was launched to enrich academic institutions’ collections and resources while promoting scholarly research on artist Frankenthaler’s contributions to the field of printmaking.
This gift is particularly exciting for the UNM Art Museum because recipients were not chosen through an application process. Grantees are identified and selected by the Foundation based on demonstrated commitments to prints as significant collection areas and teaching tools.
“This gift to the University of New Mexico Art Museum acknowledges the museum’s distinguished history of collecting prints, photographs and works on paper. It dramatically enriches the museum and will provide our student body and faculty with access to one of the great American artists of the 20th century,” said UNMAM Director Arif Khan.
This year marks the second phase of the Frankenthaler Prints Initiative. The first cycle was launched in 2018 by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation to enrich academic institutions’ collections and resources while promoting scholarly research on Frankenthaler’s contributions to the field of printmaking.
Other university museums to be awarded 2023 Frankenthaler Prints Initiative gifts include The Block Museum of Art – Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; Cantor Arts Center – Stanford University, Stanford, Calif.; Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art – Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.; Georgia Museum of Art – University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.; Grey Art Gallery – New York University, New York, N.Y.; Henry Art Gallery – University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.; Lowe Art Museum – University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla.; North Dakota Museum of Art – University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D.; and Syracuse University Art Museum – Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.
Frankenthaler (1928-2011), whose career spanned six decades, was an innovative female artist of her time and an outspoken champion of arts education, is regarded as one of the most important American Abstract Expressionist painters and printmakers of the 20th century. She established and endowed the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation to advance her legacy and inspire a new generation of practitioners through philanthropic, educational and research initiatives.
She has long been recognized as one of the great American artists of the 20th century, according to the Frankenthaler Foundation website, where her work can be viewed. She was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. Through her invention of the soak-stain technique, she expanded the possibilities of abstract painting, while at times referencing figuration and landscape in unique ways. She produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound and continues to grow.
“Prior to this gift, the museum only had one artwork by Helen Frankenthaler in the collection,” noted Devin E. Geraci, UNMAM Manager of Communications & Audience Engagement. “We are excited to see this area of our collection grow. Helen Frankenthaler, an innovative female artist of her time and an outspoken champion of arts education, is regarded as one of the most important American Abstract Expressionist painters and printmakers of the 20th century. We hope that UNM students, faculty, and community members will enjoy having access to these works.”
Part of the gift to the UNMAM includes a one-time grant of $25,000 to be used towards programs or projects relating to these prints.
“While we don’t have a program planned yet, we look forward to celebrating these works with the UNM community. This gift will enrich student and faculty experiences, particularly in the Beaumont Newhall Study Room,” Geraci said. The Frankenthaler prints will be available for viewing by appointment.
Top image: Janus, 1990, acrylic on canvas, 57 x 94 3/4 inches (144.8 x 240.7 cm), © 2023 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.