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"Comet," 1980-82; Soft-ground Etching, Sugar-lift Etching, & Aquatint Collage by Helen Frankenthaler

Updated: May 28, 2018

Comet, 1980-82; Soft-ground etching, sugar-lift etching, and aquatint in colors, on chocolate brown Moriki paper collaged to white HMP handmade Zaaen linen paper; Signed Frankenthaler and dated 1980-82 in pencil lower right and numbered 6/8 in pencil lower left; Published by Donn H. Steward, Halesite, NY (with their blindstamp); Catalogue Raisonne: Harrison 90; Size - Image: 16 x 19 1/2", Sheet: 25 x 29 3/4"; Unframed.

"Comet has all the luminous qualities of a mystifying and beautiful celstial body." - "Frankenthaler: A Catalogue Raisonne, Prints 1961-1994" by Pegram Harrison

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) was an American abstract expressionist painter who exhibited artwork for over six decades starting from the early 1950's until her passing in 2011. She was included in the 1964 Post-Painterly Abstraction exhibition curated by the famed art critic Clement Greenberg; and the body of work presented in the show would latter be known as Color Field Painting. Frankenthaler's work has been the subject of several retrospective exhibitions, including the important 1989 retrospective held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 2011 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.

Helen Frankenthaler is, without a question, one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century and is one of the very few female artists that would be included in such a list. She was married to the abstract expressionist artist Robert Motherwell, and had an intimate relationship with the famous art critic Clement Greenberg; so her connections within the art community run very deep. Frankenthaler was initially involved in the abstract expressionist movement but was looking for a path forward. Then, after a trip in October to Nova Scotia, had a breakthrough with a painting entitled "Mountains and Sea," 1952. The painting was abstract, and rather than painting the landscape seen on her trip, the work portrayed the experience itself. The composition was painted using a "soak stain" technique, whereby unprimed canvas duct is painted using oil paint that had been heavily thinned with turpentine. The effects of the technique reinforced the abstract nature of the landscape painting; and when the artists Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis saw it in her studio, their own painting styles and working methods were forever changed.

During the 1960's, ULAE published original prints by Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Barnett Newman, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Cy Twombly, and many other major modern artists working at the time. In 1966 ULAE established an etching studio and on the printers hired was Donn Steward. Steward had studied etching at the University of Iowa and had trained as a lithography printer at Tamarind. He worked with Frankenthaler and printed the four aquatints made at ULAE.

The next paragraph is from "Frankenthaler: A Catalogue Raisonne, Prints 1961-1994" by Pegram Harrison:

"Frankenthaler and Donn Steward began work in 1980 on "Comet," their last and most challenging collaboration before his death in 1985, and it took them two years to complete the project. Using only soft-ground and sugar-lift etching as well as aquatint, "Comet" is one of the most painterly and interwoven of Frankenthaler's intaglio prints."

This is an extremely important and rare work by Helen Frankenthaler. Over a period of two years, Frankenthaler and Donn Steward were able to create an amazing work of art that captures the experience of looking into the heavens and seeing a beautiful painterly night sky. The printed image is collaged onto a mottled and textured handmade paper, that further enhances the beauty of the work. The edition size is only eight and so represents a very rare opportunity for the collector.

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