Helen Frankenthaler and Modern and Contemporary Fine Art Print Artists

One of the pleasures of focusing on fine art prints at VFA, is seeing the looks on people’s faces when they discover the depth, beauty and texture of each print.


Modern artists have had  master printmakers, like Tatyana Grosman (1904-1982) and Kenneth Tyler (b.1931),to thank for helping to create works that have withstood the test of time and have encouraged Contemporary artists to continue the tradition.


Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) was one of the first post-war artists to try her hand at printmaking, with the help of Tatyana Grosman at Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE) studio. Grosman fled Russia with her family in 1918, lived in Tokyo, Venice, Munich and Dresden, where she studied drawing and fashion at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts.


In 1931 Tatyana married artist Maurice Grosman. The couple lived in France and fled to the U.S. in 1940 just before the German invasion. It took them three years to reach the U.S., where they settled in West Islip, New York.


After Maurice became ill, Grosman began publishing illustrated books. Serendipity played a part in the success that followed. They found two lithograph stones in their front yard, got a lithograph press from a neighbor, learned how to use it and, eventually, invited artists to make prints at ULAE.



Helen Frankenthaler was one of the first artists who tried printmaking at ULAE. Her works were very successful. Other post-war artists were invited to the studio, including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Jim Dine, Sam Francis, Carmen Herrera and Chuck Close. Each of those artists became successful printmakers, whose works are available at VFA.


Contemporary artists, like Brooklyn-based Eddie Martinez, is just one of many artists today who work with ULAE. Martinez's works are included in the permanent collection of the National Gallery in Washington, the Hirshhorn the Morgan Library and are available at VFA.


The work of the artists at ULAE became so successful that, just a few years after the publication of its first edition, a series of grants were established enabling MoMA to acquire the first print of every ULAE edition, a tradition that still continues today.



 Both Frank Stella and Roy Lichtenstein had a special relationship with master printmaker, Kenneth Tyler, whose career began in 1963 and lasted until his retirement in 2001. His skills and encouragement allowed artists to create works that encompassed many techniques and styles. Among the fine artists he worked with were David Hockney, Ellsworth Kelly, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg.



The works of pioneer artists like Helen Frankenthaler and Frank Stella became an inspiration for many artists who followed, like Jonas Wood, Katherine Bernhardt and Harland Miller to think outside the box and become masters of the fine art print, our passion at VFA.

January 3, 2024
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