Rowley, Alison (2007) Helen Frankenthaler: Painting History, Writing Painting. New Encounters, Arts, Cultures, Concepts . I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd., London/New York. ISBN 9781845115197

The book re-examines Frankenthaler’s canonical painting Mountains and Sea from the perspective of developments in art history and aesthetics indebted to thirty years of feminist scholarship. It argues that Mountains and Sea and other key works made by Frankenthaler in the 1950s can be understood as history paintings, witnesses to significant events of the decade that shaped the artist’s stance towards her cultural and political environment. While the book draws on the resources of phenomenology, psychoanalysis and aesthetics, it is distinguished by an engagement with its objects of study from the space of the studio. The book explores how the paintings ‘do’ history in their own terms. This involves a detailed analysis of the fundamental spatial and temporal structure of the activity of painting. The analysis builds upon recent developments in feminist scholarship in the area of psychoanalysis and aesthetics in which the activity of painting is central to a new theorization of the formation of human subjectivity as encounter. This has significant implications for the structure of the book, and leads to the concluding proposition that, here, art history is written, ‘as painting’.

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