Friday, April 12, 2024

Books I'm Reading: Fierce Poise

I recently finished Fierce Poise, by Alexander Nemerov (Penguin, 2021) about artist Helen Frankenthaler. I've always liked her work. I'm not sure when I first became aware of her, but it may have been seeing a large textile designed by Frankenthaler that used to hang in the lobby of the Winters National Bark (still there as far as I know) in Dayton, Ohio. 

I realized quickly that my familiarity with Frankenthaler was rather superficial. It extended mostly to seeing isolated works in various museums around the world over the years. I actually knew nothing at all about her private life, and Fierce Poise is more about her private life than it is about her art. I had had no idea that she came from a wealthy family, no idea that she had had a long relationship with Clement Greenberg, nor that she had been married to Robert Motherwell. Not sure how I missed that, but I don't think much about the private lives of artists when appreciating their work. That said, the history is always interesting.   

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