Parrish Receives a $50,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant from Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

Installation view: "Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown" at the Parrish Art Museum, 2019. Photo by Gary Mamay.

The Parrish Art Museum received a $50,000 grant from Helen Frankenthaler Foundation as part of its three-year COVID-19 Relief Effort, launched earlier this spring in response to the devastating and long-term impact of the pandemic. The Parrish was one of seven cultural institutions to be selected to receive a one-time relief payment of $50,000 to offset the financial strain endured as a result of the pandemic.

“We are ​deeply grateful to the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation for this generous relief grant. The funding provides vital support during this critical time,” said Chris Siefert, the museum’s interim director. “We were privileged to present a full exhibition of Frankenthaler’s work at the Museum last year, making this funding particularly meaningful to us.”

Elizabeth Smith, executive director of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, said, “Support for cultural institutions is ever more critical in the face of current crises. The Foundation has a long history of supporting initiatives at the Parrish, and we felt this donation from our COVID-19 Relief Effort was essential to helping the museum persevere through the unprecedented financial impact of this epidemic.”

Each institution selected by the Foundation has been a recent partner in presenting exhibitions to advance Frankenthaler’s (1928–2011) legacy or developing scholarship to further the understanding of the broader context of modern and contemporary art. In 2019, the Parrish Art Museum presented “Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown,” a critically acclaimed exhibition that highlighted the artist’s exploration of the relationship between landscape and abstraction through key examples of work that was produced in or referenced Provincetown, Massachusetts. Through 30 paintings and works on paper dating from 1950 to 1969, ‘Abstract Climates” illustrated Frankenthaler’s transition from Abstract Expressionism to a more allusive form of abstraction. The exhibition was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a foreword by Christine McCarthy, Director, Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and essays by the artist’s step-daughter Lise Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Smith; art historian Daniel Belasco; Alicia G. Longwell, Ph.D., The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Chief Curator, and Terrie Sultan, Director, Parrish Art Museum.

Established and endowed by Helen Frankenthaler during her lifetime, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation advances the artist’s legacy and inspires a new generation of practitioners through a range of philanthropic, educational, and research initiatives. Since becoming active in 2013, the Foundation has continued to strategically expand its program, which includes organizing and supporting significant exhibitions of the artist’s work, fostering new research and publications, and advancing educational initiatives in partnership with arts organizations around the world. As a primary resource on the artist, and a steward of her collection and archive, the Foundation holds an extensive selection of Frankenthaler’s work in a variety of mediums, her collection of works by other artists, and original papers and materials pertaining to her life and work.

Frankenthaler (1928–2011) is recognized among the most important American abstract painters of the 20th century, widely credited for her pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting. Best known for her invention of the soak stain technique, Frankenthaler experimented tirelessly throughout her six-decade-long career, producing a large body of work with a profound impact on contemporary art and artist practices to this day.