Art

The Visual Magic of Helen Frankenthaler’s Los Angeles Prints

In 1979, Frankenthaler traveled west and was introduced to the gallery and studio Mixografia, where she would eventually produce a series of serene and exuberant prints.

Helen Frankenthaler, “Sirocco” (1989), Mixografía ® print on handmade paper, edition of 52, 37 x 35 inches (© 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Mixografia, Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES — A member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionist painters, Helen Frankenthaler is a name that culls up images of sprawling oil washes, paint-soaked canvases, and the East Coast. In 1979, however, the artist took a trip west on the occasion of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s grand opening in Los Angeles, which featured her work. During her stay, she was introduced to Mixografia, an art gallery and print studio that has produced prints with the likes of John Baldessari, Louise Bourgeois, Ed Ruscha, and many more. Frankenthaler, already a prolific printmaker by the time she arrived in Los Angeles, described her relationship to working with printmakers in almost mystical terms: “It is one thing for the artist to have a certain magic and produce a certain magic but for the technicians and the press […] to get it is something truly special.”

Helen Frankenthaler working on the plate for the edition “Sirocco” (1989) (image courtesy Mixografia) 
Helen Frankenthaler, “Tahiti” (1989), Mixografía ® print on handmade paper, edition of 45, 32 x 54 inches (© 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Mixografia, Los Angeles)

In A Certain Magic Mixografia presents the work Frankenthaler went on to produce in collaboration with the studio 10 years later. Featuring prints such as the serene “Tahiti” and the colorfully exuberant “Sirocco” (both 1989), the works on display exemplify the painter’s commitment to gestural abstraction and spontaneity despite the technical restrictions of the printmaking process. A Certain Magic is accessible online, where it will be archived indefinitely, and can be seen at the gallery by appointment only.

Helen Frankenthaler incising the maquette for the edition “Sirocco” (1989) (image courtesy Mixografia) 
Helen Frankenthaler, “Hermes” (1989), Mixografía ® print on handmade paper, edition of 50, 44 x 92 inches (© 2020 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Mixografia, Los Angeles)

Helen Frankenthaler: A Certain Magic continues at Mixografia (1419 E Adams Blvd, Central-Alameda, Los Angeles) through October 25. The gallery is open by appointment only. 

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