image description
Helen Frankenthaler (American, 19282011), Madame Butterfly, 2000. 102-color woodcut from forty-six woodblocks on three sheets of handmade paper, 41 3/4 x 79 1/2 in. Helen Frankenthaler Foundation 2017 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York

Clark Art Celebration Honors Contemporary Artist

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Helen Frankenthaler (American, 1928–2011), Essence Mulberry, 1977. Eight-color woodcut from four woodblocks on handmade paper, 39 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. Helen Frankenthaler Foundation © 2017 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford Village, New York.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In celebration of the life and work of contemporary artist Helen Frankenthaler, the Clark Art Institute plans a weekend of special events, including musical performances and public lectures, on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept, 24.

The events coincide with the Clark's special exhibit "No Rules: Helen Frankenthaler Woodcuts" (on view through Sept. 24) and "As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings (on view through Oct. 9).

"No Rules" explores Frankenthaler’s inventive and groundbreaking approach to the woodcut. The artist began creating woodcuts after her previous experimentations with lithography, etching and screen printing. Throughout her career, Frankenthaler collaborated with a variety of print publishers to push the medium in new directions. In 1983, she traveled to Japan and worked with the expert woodcarver Reizo Monjyu and the printer Tadashi Toda. These efforts resulted in an entirely new, layered approach to color, which differed from traditional forms of woodcut in which images are pulled from a single carved block or from several different color blocks.

"As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings" presents 12 of the artist's large-scale paintings, made over the course of her long career, that engage with the tension between abstraction and representation. Spanning the full range of styles, techniques, and formal preoccupations that Frankenthaler explored over five decades of work, these paintings are primarily abstract, yet reveal recognizable elements from the landscape that function, paradoxically, to reinforce their abstraction: as in nature, but not as in nature.

Events on Sept. 23 include "Abstract Expressions: An American Musical Exhibit," composed of several parts, performed in various locations on the Clark's campus from 1 to 6 p.m. “Abstract Expressions” focuses on the aural history of the abstract expressionism period, featuring the music of American composers whose works are rarely heard but who remain influential and important figures in the history of American music. The program includes luminaries of the current music scene, including composer, conductor, and violinist David Fulmer (Ensemble Intercontemporain, Berlin Philharmonic), the young firebrands of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), and members of Ensemble Connect, a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute.

Also on Saturday, Sept. 23, there will be public lecture at 3:30 p.m. titled "Helen Frankenthaler’s Creative Process," featuring a panel of guest speakers including artist Clifford Ross and Jay A. Clarke, curator of "No Rules." The panel focuses on Frankenthaler’s creative process, methods, and materials, as well as public reception of the artist’s works. The lecture takes place in the Michael Conforti Pavilion.

Part I, from 1 to 2 p.m., features the International Contemporary Ensemble joining soprano Tony Arnold and conductor David Fulmer to perform Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" (1912) and Pauline Oliveros's "Earth Ears." Tickets are $20.

Part II, from 2 to 4 p.m., features pianist Conor Hanick performing Morton Feldman's "Triadic Memories" (1981) and a world premiere in two movements by David Fulmer - "Tracing Scarlet in the Shimmering" and "Sheathed in the Crush of the Sea," inspired by Frankenthaler's "painting Tethys." Part II is free, as is Part III, set for 3:30 to 3:15 and featuring "Abstract for Winds," an outdoor chamber music performance, featuring Edgard Varèse's "Octandre" (1923), Ruth Crawford "Seeger’s Suite, for Wind Quintet" (1952), and Elliott Carter's "Woodwind Quintet" (1948).

Part IV, running from 5 to 6 p.m., features the Ensemble Connect performing John Cage's "Nocturne for Violin and Piano" (1947); Mario Davidovsky's "Flashbacks" (1995) for chamber ensemble; Elliott Carter's "Epigrams" (2012) for violin, cello and piano; and Charles Wuorinen's "New York Notes" (1982). David Fulmer conducts; tickets are $20.

Events on Sunday include a public lecture at 2 p.m. titled "In Collaboration with Helen Frankenthaler," presented by Thomas Krens, director emeritus of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and former director of the Williams College Museum of Art. Krens provides an inside look at the Clark's 1980 exhibit "Helen Frankenthaler Prints: 1961–1979," which he curated with Helen Frankenthaler when she was artist in residence at Williams College.

The Clark is located at 225 South St.; reserve tickets and find more information on the website.


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