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Collaborating With Helen Frankenthaler

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Carl Belz recalls how the installation of the 1981 exhibition Frankenthaler: The 1950s at the Rose Art Museum became "a memorable collaboration with the artist herself."

Belz writes: "We walked through the show together, Helen looking quietly at the pictures, remembering them, for in many cases she had not seen them in the flesh since they left her hand more than 20 years earlier. Certainly she had not seen them assembled as she was seeing them at that moment, and I began to realize that what I assumed was a triumph–the full spectrum of her first decade of achievement–was also her vulnerability, a laying bare of her initial urge in the direction of genuinely ambitious painting. She admitted as much, acknowledging the nervousness she had felt on her way to the museum, but she also said she was deeply satisfied with how everything looked, and she congratulated me for my knowledge of, and sensitivity to, the work, asking in conclusion if I would mind if we rearranged a few pictures."

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