Coming after Abstract Expressionism, Helen Frankenthaler presented paintings which would be dismissed as “merely beautiful” by critics at the time. Earl Powell, currently the director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., disagreed and stated “It is not cloying…not pretty in a pejorative sense. But it really rises to challenge the best work of her time.”

The art world was still dominated by men when Frankenthaler’s work was reconized earning the notice and respect of critics and influenced artists. She would pour diluted paint onto the canvas and then manipulate it with mops and sponges to create vivid fields of color. A technique she developed after observing Jackson Pollock’s process of working. “What evolved for me had to do with pouring paint and staining paint,” Frankenthaler described. “It’s a kind of marrying the paint into the woof and weave of the canvas itself, so that they become one and the same.”

Helen Frankenthaler died Tuesday at her home in Connecticut at the age of 83.