A Seller's Guide To Helen Frankenthaler

Sheena Carrington
written by Sheena Carrington,
Date of publication7 Mar 2024
Last updated3 Jun 2024
Helen Frankenthaler’s Southern Exposure. An abstract expressionist screenprint of a landscape using orange, red and yellow.Southern Exposure © Helen Frankenthaler 2005
Helena Poole

Helena Poole, Specialist[email protected]

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Helen Frankenthaler, celebrated for her role in abstract expressionism, stands as a pivotal figure in 20th-century art. Beyond her artistic impact, her innovative stained technique set her apart from, yet commendably alongside, male peers. Recently, her presence in the secondary market, notably in evening and day sales, has surged. Moreover, her allure extends to the print market. Understanding the seller's market dynamics is imperative for collectors aiming to capitalise on this interest. Access insider knowledge for successful sales in the Frankenthaler market, refining your art investment strategy through this comprehensive seller's guide.

How Much Do Helen Frankenthaler Prints Sell For?

The market for Frankenthaler's prints displays a wide price range, influenced by factors such as rarity, condition, edition size, artist demand, and overall market trends. Original Frankenthaler prints can range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand. Certain lithographs, like What Red Lines Can Do (1970) and La Sardana (1987), offer more accessible options, priced at several thousand dollars, highly coveted pieces like Tales Of Genji III (1998) and Savage Breeze (1974) fetch prices exceeding £100,000.

Frankenthaler's print market offers a diverse range of styles, reflecting her experimentation across various printmaking techniques. While woodcuts and etchings typically command higher prices, lithographs provide more accessible entry points for art investors. As an active and collaborative artist, Frankenthaler continued producing prints until the 2000s, leaving a legacy following her passing in 2011. Spanning from the 1950s to the early 2000s, her career showcases distinct phases, notably her soak-stain technique in the 1960s, vibrant colour palettes in the 1970s, and mood-setting hues in the 1980s. Investors often target her later works, which tend to fetch the highest prices. Recognising various print making techniques and key periods within Frankenthaler's oeuvre help to inform strategic investment decisions.

Over the past five years, the Frankenthaler print market has experienced a notable surge in popularity. In 2023, sales on the secondary market exceeded 80 prints, with prices spanning from £1,000 to £130,000. The standout performer of that year was Essence Mulberry, State I (1977), which fetched the highest price at a Sotheby's charity auction in March.

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How Do You Authenticate a Helen Frankenthaler Print?

With Frankenthaler's print works gaining popularity and value, navigating print authentication becomes increasingly crucial for art collectors and new investors. If you're initiating the authentication process, here are key steps to consider:

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

Throughout her lifetime (1928-2011), Frankenthaler established and endowed The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, which became active in 2013 following the closing of her estate. This digital platform serves as a crucial tool, offering a comprehensive archive of Frankenthaler's work from various decades. It also provides invaluable guidance and information on authentic prints, a resource not readily accessible for all artists. If selling a Frankenthaler artwork, this site ensures the authenticity of prints, offering assurance to buyers and collectors.

Edition and Signature

Frankenthaler's print production extended from the 1950s to the 2000s. Her prints feature her signature, often the surname only and found in the lower right-hand corner. Additionally, they are frequently dated and/or numbered and bear the publisher blindstamps from collaborators of that era. However, the placement of these details can vary. For instance, Grey Fireworks (2000) is signed in both right and left corners, and numbered in the left corner. In contrast, Earth Slice (1978) is signed with the surname and dated in the left corner, with numbering in the right corner. When selling Frankenthaler prints, it's crucial to inform buyers or dealers about these nuances to ensure the best pricing outcome for the artwork.

Provenance

Provenance remains paramount. Sellers must meticulously track and verify the artwork's provenance, both to establish authenticity and, akin to paintings, to enhance the value of prints with prestigious histories. Authentic prints will be be accompanied by comprehensive documentation, such as certificates of authenticity, exhibition catalogues, gallery invoices that trace to the prints publication and match the blindstamp, or letters of authenticity.

“Every canvas is a journey all its own. There are no rules. Let the picture lead you where it must go.”
Helen Frankenthaler

How To Know If Your Helen Frankenthaler Print Has Been Kept In Good Condition?

In the realm of the seller's market, condition reigns supreme, arguably surpassing all other considerations. With Frankenthaler's print production spanning from the 1950s, prints from earlier periods, if not meticulously maintained, are susceptible to inevitable wear. The condition of your print significantly influences its resale value; thus, preserving its quality is paramount. Whether through auction houses, dealers, or other selling venues, a thorough condition check is crucial, with all findings disclosed to the seller and buyer. While you can assess signs of damage or mishandling independently, consulting with an expert conservator is advisable for a professional evaluation. At MyArtBroker, our team of experts offers guidance on professional restoration services to provide comprehensive condition reports for your print.

When Is the Best Time to Sell Your Helen Frankenthaler Print?

Determining the optimal selling time involves considering various factors, but ultimately hinges on demand for your prints. Monitoring auction sales and researching their histories can provide insights into market dynamics, such as market saturation and whether prints are selling above or below presale estimates. Typically, when prints consistently sell above estimate, demand is high, signalling a potentially advantageous time to sell. Additionally, if the artist's paintings are prominently featured and selling well in marquee evening sales or following a major exhibition or retrospective, it could also indicate a favourable selling opportunity. Understanding these dynamics can be challenging, but platforms like MyArtBroker offer tools like their AI-powered value indicator, which tracks auction histories to provide real-time valuations, aiding sellers in making informed decisions.

Read Case Study: How To Value Prints & Editions With Art Tech to learn more about our technology.

Browse Helen Frankenthaler prints on the Trading Floor and find out more about the print market growth on the MAB100 Print Index.

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“I’d rather risk an ugly surprise than rely on things I know I can do.”
Helen Frankenthaler

Where Can You Sell Your Helen Frankenthaler Print?

Selling A Helen Frankenthaler Through an Auction House

There are various avenues available for selling your Frankenthaler print, with auction houses representing a prominent option. Live auction sales offer substantial marketing efforts, ensuring bidder participation. Yet, there is a fee for marketing costs along with other drawbacks to auction house selling. The auction house largely controls your print's fate, setting estimates based on their valuation expertise. There is an option for setting a reserve price with the auction house guarantees a minimum amount for your work; however, if bidding falls short, the print may go unsold. If the print remains unsold, its perceived value and the artist's market could suffer, complicating future sales. Commission fees, which can climb as high as 25%, and potential storage costs further add to the consignment process. Additionally, auction house sales operate on strict schedules, potentially leading to delays of three months or more before your print reaches the market. It's crucial to select an auction house that aligns with your selling criteria, and maintains a positive reputation within the art market.

Selling Your Helen Frankenthaler Online

In addition to live auctions, online selling has emerged as a convenient alternative for sellers. Online marketplaces provide access to a global pool of potential buyers, offering greater accessibility and convenience. Platforms such as Artsy and ArtNet serve as reputable venues for sellers to showcase their artworks and engage directly with prospective buyers. These regulated and well-established platforms offer a branded assurance of trust compared to eBay. We strongly recommend avoiding eBay for selling high-value assets, as it's essential to prioritise precautionary measures and rely on professional sources when dealing with such transactions.

Selling Your Helen Frankenthaler Through a Broker

Another increasingly popular option gaining traction in the art market is engaging a broker for private sales. Opting for private sales offers a more personalised approach to transactions. Broker's will usually guide sellers through the valuation process, ensuring a clear understanding of the fair market value (FMV) and its rationale. Typically, fees are lower, and brokers secure trustworthy buyers, expediting payment and handling transaction logistics. Private dealers possess extensive knowledge of the art market and have access to specialists for condition assessments, trusted shippers, and storage facilities. Utilising a broker also guarantees heightened privacy and keeps the artwork away from the secondary market, preventing additional valuations that may impact the artwork's or the artist's market value.

Read MyArtBroker's Guide to Auction vs. Private Sale in the prints and multiples market for detailed insights.

Why Sell Your Helen Frankenthaler With MyArtBroker?

A Dedicated Broker

MyArtBroker offers a distinctive service connecting clients with their dedicated personal broker, ensuring a secure transaction through our online digital platform. Our specialists excel at sourcing direct buyers for consigned prints via our live trading floor, where users within our extensive network can express interest in specific prints and multiples by particular artists, whether they intend to sell, buy, or simply desire a specific print. Our team is approachable, passionate, and consistently provides updates on the art market and artists. We guide sellers through a seamless transaction process, establishing a fair market valuation based on realistic sale prices and offering free advice on the optimal timing for selling, leveraging our extensive knowledge of the art market.

Meet our team of specialist brokers.

Minimise Risk

At MyArtBroker, we prioritise transparency and security in every art sale. Our stringent due diligence process ensures the authentication and verification of artwork provenance, drawing upon our in-house expertise and collaborating with professional external contacts when needed. This approach effectively mitigates the risk of trading counterfeit or stolen art pieces. Additionally, we minimise the risks associated with public sales. While public auctions may seem appealing, unsold prints can harm an artist's market. Private sales eliminate this risk and enable quicker liquidity release for your artwork compared to adhering to strict auction schedules dictating when your work can be offered for sale.

0% Seller’s Fees, 100% of the Time

Our team of specialists offers tailored services to procure rare and special edition prints, catering to both seasoned collectors and newcomers to the market. As part of our standard practice, we provide complimentary valuations and charge zero seller's fees, setting us apart from other private brokers and traditional auction houses. By minimising overhead costs, we allocate resources towards digital innovation and targeted marketing strategies within our network and house magazine.

When it comes to selling artwork, achieving the best price hinges on accessing a niche market with an established collector community. If you're looking to sell a print, turning to a specialist in the print market, like MyArtBroker, yields superior results compared to approaching an auction house, which caters to broader categories of artwork.

Our Network

Through our live trading floor, we empower our network of collectors, fundamentally reshaping the art investment and trading landscape in the digital era. Offering real-time market data and insights gleaned from worldwide collectors, we establish value based on convenience, accessibility, and the exceptional level of transparency and security provided to over tens of thousands of users.

Explore our Art+Tech Report to discover everything we've built.

Helen Frankenthaler Collection Management with MyPortfolio

In addition to our live trading floor, MyArtBroker's MyPortfolio serves as a collection management system, empowering collectors to curate and oversee their prints and editions collection, while tracking its value in real-time. This feature grants users access to our print market database, uniquely tied to our proprietary algorithm, SingularityX. This algorithm scans and analyses both public auction and private sales data to determine real-time valuations of individual print works, factoring in various aspects such as condition, colour, and other factors affecting value.

Read What Powers MyArtBroker's Technology? In Conversation With Stuart Jameison, Financial Quant to learn more about our algorithm.

Emerging art tech tools are vital in navigating the current, and evolving, digital art market landscape. For instance, by adding Helen Frankenthaler prints from our website to the MyPortfolio dashboard, users gain insight into unique sale opportunities and observe market performance and fluctuations in real time, streamlining the sales process effortlessly. Our pioneering technology has revolutionised art portfolio management, making it more accessible and equipping users with data-driven insights for informed decisions. MyArtBroker harnesses cutting-edge technology driven by data, coupled with a team of industry experts, to deliver an exceptional experience. Our professionals work closely with clients, utilising the MyPortfolio dashboard, to provide personalised guidance for creating a profitable art collection. By merging technology and expertise, we are committed to offering unparalleled curation and customer service.

Helena Poole

Helena Poole, Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Helen Frankenthaler?

Get a valuation

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