"Broome Street at Night" by Helen Frankenthaler

Permanent Collection Highlight: “Broome Street at Night” by Helen Frankenthaler

Oct 8, 2019
Allison Lauricella

Written by Allison Lauricella

This etching, Broome Street at Night, was created by American artist Helen Frankenthaler in 1987. Frankenthaler was a second-generation abstract expressionist and was heavily influenced by the works of Clement Greenberg, Hans Hoffmann and Jackson Pollack. Born in 1928 in Manhattan, New York, Frankenthaler was raised in a progressive Jewish family who encouraged Helen and her sisters to pursue professional careers. 

Frankenthaler studied at the Dalton School with Rufino Tamayo, an artist also represented in the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection, and at Bennington College in Vermont with Paul Feeley. Clement Greenberg introduced her to contemporary painting in 1950, and she had her first solo show at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery the following year. Her 1952 painting Mountains and Sea was incredibly influential in the Color Field painting movement. In that work, she pioneered the “stain” technique, in which she poured diluted paint onto unprimed canvas. The resulting color fields looked spontaneous and accidental. Frankenthaler is known as one of the most influential painters of the 20th century. 

In addition to painting, Frankenthaler experimented in many other artistic mediums including fiber, ceramics, sculpture and printmaking. In addition to her contributions to the field of painting, she is perhaps best known for her prints. She played a significant role in the “print renaissance” happening in the United States in the second half of the 20th century. Broome Street at Night is one of two Frankenthaler etchings in the Brenau University Permanent Art Collection. This etching with aquatint captures the mood of the iconic New York street at night through the use of color and atmospheric lines.