Helen Frankenthaler Value: Top Prices Paid At Auction

Tales Of Genji IV by Helen Frankenthaler - MyArtBroker Tales Of Genji IV © Helen Frankenthaler 1998
Helena Poole

Helena Poole, Specialist[email protected]

Interested in buying or selling
Helen Frankenthaler?

Browse artworks
Helen Frankenthaler

Helen Frankenthaler

33 works

Helen Frankenthaler's artistic legacy is defined by her pioneering exploration of colour and technique, particularly her innovative pouring and staining methods that gave rise to ethereal landscapes on canvas. The year 2023 marked a significant milestone for Frankenthaler, with record-breaking auctions achieved in both online and day sales. As we step into 2024, there's a notable resurgence of Frankenthaler's works in marquee evening sales at Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips, bolstering her market presence and yielding impressive returns.

£6.4M for Royal Fireworks

($7,895,300 USD)

Royal Fireworks by Helen Frankenthaler - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Royal Fireworks © Helen Frankenthaler 1975

Frankenthaler's Royal Fireworks (1975) represents both a culmination of her artistic evolution and a zenith in her auction history. This monumental canvas epitomises her mature phase, showcasing a pivotal transition in her technique to diluted acrylic paints from her previous oil soak-staining method. Making its reappearance at auction after nearly a decade, Royal Fireworks debuted in Sotheby's online sale in June 2020. The 13-foot masterpiece orchestrates a captivating symphony of vibrant oranges merging into delicate pinks, culminating in a coral crescendo against contrasting turquoise. Its resounding success at auction, fetching £6.4 million (with fees), Royal Fireworks established Frankenthaler's auction record.

£4.4M for Dream Decision

($5,894,100 USD)

Dream Decision by Helen Frankenthaler - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Dream Decision © Helen Frankenthaler 1976

Purchased the same year the artwork was created from a prominent San Francisco gallery, this artwork resurfaced on the secondary market in November 2021 after a four-decade hiatus. Immersed in a tranquil lavender wash merging with deep oceanic blue, the canvas reveals subtle magenta stains. Reminiscent of Frankenthaler's oeuvre, the work emanates an ethereal, feminine allure. Its carefully chosen palette pulsates with vitality akin to Post War Abstract Expressionism. Dream Decision (1976) captivates with its name and execution, embodying a reverie-like quality. This work fetched £4.3 million (with fees) at Sotheby's Day auction, reaffirming Frankenthaler's resonance within the art market.

£3.8M for Circe

($4,769,000 USD )

Circe by Helen Frankenthaler - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Circe © Helen Frankenthaler 1974

Frankenthaler's Circe (1976) embodies her profound artistic philosophy, epitomised by the quote, ”It was all there. I wanted to live in this land. I had to live there, and master the language.” This expansive canvas, awash with varied blue tones blending seamlessly with coral beige, invites viewers into a realm of poetic contemplation. With a meandering incursion of purple rhapsody, Circe captivates with its enigmatic terrain, evoking a trance-like allure. Circe fetched £3.8 million (with fees) at Sotheby's in May 2022 and remains one of her top-selling works.

£3.7M for Carousel

($4,739,000 USD )

Carousel by Helen Frankenthaler - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Carousel © Helen Frankenthaler 1979

Measuring over 17 feet, Carousel (1979) showcases Frankenthaler's artistic genius with its vibrant red tones. Originating from the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, this work was consigned as part of a strategic deaccessioning move to boost operational resources. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Carousel fetched an impressive £3.6 million (with fees) at Sotheby's in October 2020. This sale highlights the enduring demand for Frankenthaler's work and sheds light on the complexities of the art market, including the decisions cultural institutions must make to adapt to changing circumstances.

£3.4M for Elberta by Helen Frankenthaler - Christie's

($4,285,000 USD)

Elberta bImage © Christie's / Elberta © Helen Frankenthaler 1975

Highlighted in Christie's May 2024 New York sales, Frankenthaler's Elberta (1975) presents an orange wash canvas with subtle blue and yellow accents emerging from the lower left corner. Excelling in Christie's sale, the piece fetched £3.3 million (including fees), indicating Frankenthaler's sustained prominence in 2024.

£2.9M for Acres

($3,690,000 USD)

Acres by Helen Frankenthaler - Phillips Image © Phillips / Acres © Helen Frankenthaler 1959

Frankenthaler's Acres (1959), a square canvas, made a significant impact on the market in the first half of 2024, showcased in Phillips' May New York sales. This pivotal work reflects Frankenthaler's early exploration of colour and materiality. With a prestigious exhibition history and provenance, it debuted in Frankenthaler's inaugural institutional solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum in 1960, and was later featured in esteemed American museum institutions. After nearly three decades in a distinguished private collection, Acres surpassed its £1.9 million estimate, hammering at £2.9 million with fees at Phillips, solidifying its status as one of Frankenthaler's top-selling works.

£2.9M for February's Turn

($3,540,000 USD)

February's Turn by Helen Frankenthaler - Christie's Image © Christie's / February's Turn © Helen Frankenthaler 1979

Frankenthaler's artistic technique is one-of-a-kind, especially evident in her late 1970s creations like February's Turn (1979). This piece showcases segmented pours of red and orange hues, expertly layered to create a washing aesthetic. The title itself evokes a seasonal metamorphosis, symbolising change. Frankenthaler's mastery is apparent as she deftly wields her medium, creating an illusion akin to watercolour on canvas. February's Turn achieved £2.9 million (with fees) at Christie's in May 2022.

£2.8M for Off White Square

($3,720,500 USD)

 Off White Square by Helen Frankenthaler - Phillips Image © Phillips/ Off White Square © Helen Frankenthaler 1973

Off White Square (1973) exemplifies Frankenthaler's early experimentation with pigment manipulation, pouring turpentine-diluted stains onto canvas. Her intuitive process, guided by keen perception, anticipates the interplay of poured pigments. Beneath this instinctual creation lies Frankenthaler's engagement with abstraction, employing techniques like masking tape and incisive cutouts to reveal bare canvas. Rich in provenance, this artwork has traversed galleries, private collections, and the prestigious HSBC Bank Collection. It featured prominently in the 2017 Clark Institute exhibition, As in Nature: Helen Frankenthaler Paintings. This acclaimed canvas achieved £2.8 million (with fees) at Phillips in December 2020.

£2.8M for Black Touch

($3,448,000 USD)

Black Touch by Helen Frankenthaler - Sotheby's Image © Sotheby's / Black Touch © Helen Frankenthaler 1965

Black Touch (1965) significance extends beyond auction success to its role in Frankenthaler's early 1960s experimentation. The canvas showcases her meticulous use of space, with hues converging along the edges, while maintaining an abstract allure. Notable are subtle imperfections—a blue splatter in the upper corner and an orange splotch transcending the grey border. Amidst this interplay of colour and form, the central space becomes a focal point, blending technique with intention. Black Touch fetched £2.7 million (with fees) at Sotheby’s in May 2023.

£2.7M for Genuine Blue

($3,317,000 USD)

Genuine Blue by Helen Frankenthaler - Christie's Image © Christie's / Genuine Blue © Helen Frankenthaler 1970-1971

Genuine Blue (1970-1971) unfolds a mesmerising azure hue, interwoven with nuanced pigments revealing hints of raw canvas beneath, creating a delicate tapestry of browns and greens. A subtle intrusion of bright yellow adds dynamism, extending from the lower edge. Notably distinct from the previous work, Black Touch (1965), Genuine Blue's canvas interruptions and chromatic intersections reflect instinctive artistry. Delicately etched black lines evoke depth and a landscape sensibility, evident in Frankenthaler's oeuvre. This work recently saw success at Christie's in May 2023 realising £2.6 million (with fees).