"Truth comes when one is totally involved in the act of painting, somehow using everything one knows about painting materials, dreams, and feelings. Consciously and unconsciously, the artist allows what must happen to happen. That act connects you to yourself and gives you hope...The painter makes something magical, spatial, and alive on a surface that is flat and with materials that are inert. That magic is what makes paintings unique and necessary"—Helen Frankenthaler
Painted one year after a major exhibition of her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Regatta, with its deep palette of oceanic blues, earthy greens and faint streaks of pink, is an illustrious example of the evolution of Frankenthaler’s work and the bold use of color, line and form that best defines her mature output of the 1980s. Regatta invites viewers into an expansive plane of blue-greens, accented by energized lines of pink, red, and orange, evoking the vibrancy of summer and the exuberance of the oceanfront. The lower plane of the painting, which extends itself toward the painting’s four edges through spontaneous and swirling streaks of color, creates a boundless quality to Regatta, channeling the immeasurable depths of the ocean and the majestic and limitless vibrancy that stems from its core.
The bold washes of color and gestural lines which Frankenthaler imbues across the canvas surface in Regatta speaks to her lifelong pursuit of defining her own artistic path within the male dominated world of Abstract Expressionism. The “stain” technique, incorporated heavily in Regatta, played an integral role in defining Frankenthaler’s own stylistic vision, and remains one of the most important characteristics of her maturing works from this period. While deeply influenced by the Abstract Expressionists of her time, Frankenthaler’s technique presents itself as more fluid and gestural, unlike the harsher application characteristic of her male counterparts. Through dreamlike layers of color washes juxtaposed by vibrant streaks of color, Frankenthaler presents a uniquely electric yet calming surface. Regatta is exemplary of Frankenthaler’s ethereal approach and poetic vision, while simultaneously testifying to the boldness and strength of her pursuit to create an artistic path for herself that was truly all her own.