DETAIL: Helen FRANKENTHALER Freefall 1993 colour woodcut Purchased with the assistance of the Orde Poynton Fund 2002

VIEW BY GALLERY : Helen Frankenthaler | Collaboration | Freefall | Essence mulberry | Tales of Genji | Madame Butterfly |


Freefall is the only woodcut by Helen Frankenthaler in which she incorporates paper pulp as a support. In the initial development of this large-scale image Frankenthaler first created a paper maquette – a kind of paper prototype. Using handfuls of wet, coloured paper pulp, manipulated with combs and a turkey baster, Frankenthaler actually painted with paper. This work served as a blueprint for Freefall from which the printers at Tyler Graphics created the edition of woodblock prints.

To produce Freefall as an editioned print rather than a one-off work in paper, Frankenthaler’s maquette was traced. Then, using the traced stencils as a guide for the various colours and shapes, a base sheet of paper was sprayed with dyed paper pulp. Once run through the press, the paper pulp bled into the base sheet and fused with it. The background of the work was now complete.

To produce the wood-grain texture and opacity of Freefall, shapes from the original maquette were also transferred onto a giant plywood block. The woodblock was cut up into several pieces and each one was inked. The woodblocks were then reassembled and printed over the top of the paper pulp base sheet.

The vibrant colour-saturated surface of Freefall is the direct result of the artist’s experimental combination of printing woodcut on paper pulp.

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