FRANKENTHALER--Helen The family of Helen Frankenthaler, the eminent American abstract painter, announced with profound sadness her death at the age of 83, on December 27, 2011, at her home in Connecticut after a long illness. Deeply loved by her family and cherished by her many friends around the world, she is survived by her husband of seventeen years, Stephen M. DuBrul, Jr.; and by her nieces, Ellen Iseman and Beverly Ross, and four nephews, Peter Iseman, Fred Iseman, Alfred Ross, and Clifford Ross. She is also survived by two stepdaughters, Lise Motherwell and Jeannie Motherwell, from her first marriage, to the artist Robert Motherwell, and by two stepchildren, Jennifer DuBrul and Nicholas DuBrul, as well as three grandnephews, two grandnieces, four step-granddaughters, two step-great-grandsons, and one step-great-granddaughter. Helen Frankenthaler was born in Manhattan in 1928, the third daughter of New York State Supreme Court Judge Alfred Frankenthaler and Martha Lowenstein Frankenthaler. Her sisters, Marjorie Frankenthaler Iseman and Gloria Frankenthaler Ross Bookman, predeceased her. Helen Frankenthaler graduated from The Dalton School, having attended The Brearley School and The Horace Mann School. A 1949 graduate of Bennington College, she served as a member of the College's Board of Trustees from 1967 to 1982. She was the recipient of twenty-six honorary degrees, as well as other notable honors, including the National Medal of the Arts, in 2001. Most recently, she was appointed as an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2011. From 1985 to 1992, she was a member of the National Council on the Arts, part of the National Endowment for the Arts. A perfectionist and planner to the end, she made clear her wish to be buried at her alma mater, Bennington College, in Vermont, where a private ceremony will be held. A memorial service in New York City will be announced in the weeks ahead. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Bennington College or Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City. Helen was a family treasure, a national treasure, and will be forever missed by those who knew her well and by a public who admired her vibrant works of art. In her career she was an original, brilliant, energetic, witty presence who shone brightly in our firmament. With her passing, her world and her family are left with a deep void and diminished color.
Published in The New York Times on Dec. 29, 2011