Fist stone, 1961 Lithograph in 5 colors
Frankenthaler's usual spontaneous painterly way of working was difficult to translate into printmaking. To resolve this problem, she would make a mark through a stone or etching, proof it, cut it up and then fiddle with the different pieces until she found a composition she was happy with. I think her more interesting work emerged when she embraced the printmaking process. When she moved to working with woodcuts, it was impossible to compose prints in her cut and arrange method. Instead, she used a jigsaw to break up the block and began experimenting with composition in this manner.
East and Beyond, 1973 woodcut in 8 colors
She increasingly balanced her work between experimental and laborious. She worked with the master printer Kenneth Tyler to create complicated and unique prints which moved away from the hard edges found in her jigsaw woodblocks.
In an essay about her printmaking experience she wrote, "I want to draw my own images, mix my own colors, approve of registration marks, select paper- all the considerations and reconsiderations. Assuming that those who work in the workshops are all artists at what they do, I can then entrust the actual duplicating process to other hands that possess-hopefully-their kind of magic. Sharing and participating to the end." Frankenthaler's words reveal her relationship with the printmaker, but also her hugely increased confidence in the medium, especially when compared to her earlier concerns and awkwardness handling the mark making and process.
Freefall, 1993 woodcut and stencil
Madame Butterfly, 2000 woodcut in 102 colors