Helen Frankenthaler - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “…A line, color, shapes, spaces, all do one thing for and within themselves, and yet do something else, in relation to everything that is going on within the four sides [of the canvas]. A line is a line, but it is a color…”
    —Helen Frankenthaler

    Helen Frankenthaler’s Coyote Dawn, 1986, is an illustrious composition that conveys the artist’s unique style at the height of her powers. The composition is an interwoven dance between color and line, which was critical to her mature style of the 1980s. The gestural lines of yellow and thickened red textural marks that jump off the surface are combined with larger areas of atmospheric blues that fluidly move across the canvas, playing against each other. Giving prominence to richly varied applications of paint, composed in different shapes with lyrical contours snaking around them, eventually veering into the smoky grey shadows giving way to the deep, moody maroon backdrop, are reminiscent of the soft evanescent changes in the sky as dusk turns to dawn. With the expansive regions of color further energized by Frankenthaler’s grey fingerprints in the lower right part of the canvas, this painting evokes a boundless feeling of syzygy through a series of opposites: calmness and energy, sensuality and rigor, night and day.

    Painted the year following her major exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Coyote Dawn embodies Frankenthaler’s ethereal approach and poetic outlook while simultaneously testifying to the bravery and perseverance of her pursuit to create a distinguished artistic path for herself amongst the male dominated realm of Abstract Expressionism. By bringing to light her femininity in harmony with the forceful brushwork of her male counterparts, Frankenthaler achieved success in transcending beyond the boundaries that attempted to relegate her as a “woman painter.”  

    • Provenance

      Irving Galleries, Palm Beach
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property from a Notable Private Collection


Coyote Dawn

signed "Frankenthaler" lower right; signed and dated "Frankenthaler '86" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
33 x 54 1/2 in. (83.8 x 138.4 cm)
Painted in 1986.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $304,800

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan

Specialist, Head of Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 May 2023