Helen Frankenthaler, American, Holocaust, 1955, Enamel, tube oil pigment, and turpentine on unsized cotton canvas; 173.7 x 137.2 cm (68 3/8 x 54 inches), The Albert Pilavin Memorial Collection of 20th-Century American Art 72.108
Helen Frankenthaler, a key member of the post-World War II New York School of painting, pioneered a process known as soak staining. Her method included diluting oil paints with turpentine and pouring them onto unprimed canvases, thus unifying the color with the raw canvas. The resulting soft-edged fields of color distinguish her work from the gestural expressiveness and hard-edged geometry of abstract works by her peers. She painted Holocaust shortly after visiting Europe, still in ruins following the war. In this early painting, the splattered and dripped paint connects her to Abstract Expressionism, while the large flat areas of red and saturated white anticipate her Color Field paintings.