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Tales of Genji V

Widely regarded for her innovative “color staining” painting technique, Helen Frankenthaler was also a bold printmaker who helped resurrect the woodcut medium among contemporary artists. Rather than reprising her paintings, she experimented with the blocks themselves, revealing their essence.

In 1983, she went to Kyoto to collaborate with Japanese craftsmen and to absorb the ukiyo-e printmaking tradition. This experience exposed Frankenthaler to the rich world of Japanese art and culture, including the eleventh-century text The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, the world’s first woman novelist. Frankenthaler found a kinship between certain tenets of Japanese art and the principles of Abstract Expressionism—a marriage between media and nature and a close relationship between image and surface. Part of a series of six works, this ambitious print incorporates forty-nine colors from twenty-one woodblocks and one stencil.

Helen Frankenthaler
American, 1928–2011
Tales of Genji V from Tales of Genji, 1998
Color woodcut and stencil on paper
Image/sheet: 42 x 47 in. (106.6 x 119.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Museum purchase with funds from Judi and Milt Stewart, 2002.38

Large image not available.