LiveAuctioneers | Auction Central News | February 12th 2024

KEEGO HARBOR, Mich. – There were 200 bidders watching on LiveAuctioneers when East, an original canvas by Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), was offered at Le Shoppe Auction House on January 14. The 1974 acrylic on canvas came with a full provenance, having been bought from the Robert Miller Gallery in New York in its founding year, 1977. Estimated at $70,000-$105,000, it hammered for $230,000 ($292,100 with buyer’s premium).

Measuring 20in by 2ft 4in, East was a textbook Color Field painting from the period. Starting in the 1960s, Frankenthaler – who began her career exhibiting large-scale Abstract Expressionist paintings in the early 1950s – switched from oil paints to acrylic and developed the technique she named ‘soak stain’. Working here on an unprimed canvas with heavily diluted paint, the dominant magenta splash has soaked fully through the canvas.

Signed and dated March 1974, East was sold with a December 1977 letter from Robert Miller, which stated that the painting was part of his personal collection and had come directly from Frankenthaler.

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