Helen Frankenthaler (b. 1928, United States; d. 2011, United States) 

Vanilla, 1978 
Acrylic on canvas 
Helen Frankenthaler’s 1952 painting Mountains and Sea in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is perhaps the work that most directly ties her explorations of abstraction to landscape, with its representational washes of green, pink, and aqua. Vanilla, from 1978 is distinctly more monochromatic than its processor, with its palette staying close to the colors of the organic material and flavor its title references. Golds, browns, and whites move horizontally and vertically across the canvas, applied with a diversity of densities, which range from thin washes that soak into the canvas, to thick globs that sit heavily on its surface. These layers construct the painting’s beautiful play between surface and depth, creating the sensation that we are looking into a clouded vista.