Sparkling Amazons

From Emmy records to exhibitions expanding the boundaries of art as we know it to developing new media companies, this section keeps you up to date on alums making national and international news. 

Young woman with brown hair, pink blouse and white skirt sits on a painting with paintings in background

“This seems to be a Frankenthaler moment,” CBS Sunday Morning reported in a feature profile of the life and work of Helen Frankenthaler ’49 that aired this past summer. Indeed, it is. This past year alone, Frankenthaler’s work was exhibited in several major shows: Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown shown at the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY; Helen Frankenthaler Prints: Seven Types of Ambiguity, an exhibition at the Princeton University Art Museum; Pittura/Panorama: Paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, 1952–1992 at the Museo di Palazzo Grimani, Venice, Italy; and Sparkling Amazons, an exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art. The latter show recognizes the often-overlooked contribution by women artists to the Abstract Expressionist movement and the significant role they played as bold innovators within the New York School during the 1940s and 1950s. The museum writes that the catalyst for this show was the groundbreaking 9th Street show arranged by avant-garde artists and gallerist Leo Castelli in 1951. Of the more than 60 artists included, only 11 were women. In the early 1970s, art critic Thomas Hess would refer to the 11 women as “sparkling Amazons,” the reference for the exhibition’s title. Amazon Prime Video is developing a new series based on the pioneering art and lives of the 9th Street women in a series with the same namesake, Ninth Street Women. The series was developed based on the recent book by Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women (Back Bay Books, September 2019).

Photo credit: Helen Frankenthaler in her West End Avenue studio, New York, 1957. Published in Life magazine on May 13, 1957. © Gordon Parks / The LIFE Picture Collection / Getty Images.