1983 Helen Frankenthaler Color Lithograph
Appraised Value: $15,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (3:07)
Prints & Posters
Director, Works of Art on Paper
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: This was given to me by Helen Frankenthaler on the day I was born. She was a really close friend of my grandparents. My grandfather was her doctor for many years. And the way they got so close is that she would often pay him in art instead of paying medical bills.
GUEST: So they established a really good friendship, and then this was given to me as a birthday present.
APPRAISER: On the day you were born.
APPRAISER: Well, we all know how old you are now, first of all.
GUEST: Yes, 1986.
APPRAISER: You have Frankenthaler's dedication to you, "Welcome….”
GUEST: “To Jessica…”
APPRAISER: “…The 21st of April, 1986." And you can see down here Frankenthaler has signed it in pencil, dated it 1983, which is when the work was actually created, and inscribed it "Presentation proof number two." Now, it's a color lithograph. It's printed in several colors, even though the most dominant one is red. There's also sort of a pinkish red. It's what known as a tusche lithograph, and that's a process by which the artist paints the ink directly on the stone. And that's why it has that sort of wash-y, painted look.
APPRAISER: And that was the perfect technique, really, for Frankenthaler, who is, I would say, arguably the top abstract expressionist female artist.
APPRAISER: Abstract expressionism being the movement that started mainly in New York in the 1940s with artists like de Kooning and Pollock.
APPRAISER: And Frankenthaler was the main female artist of that movement. For a while, she was married to Robert Motherwell, who was also a famous abstract expressionist.
APPRAISER: And her printmaking activities started in the 1960s with a publisher out on Long Island, ULAE, and continued right through her life. She died only last year.
APPRAISER: And as with most artists, her death precipitated a rise in value for her work. This work would have been editioned. Usually, her editions are between about 20, 50, at most maybe 70 impressions. This is in beautiful shape. You have very strong color here, and I would go so far as to say that red is really one of the most popular colors for collectors of abstract expressionist works like this.
APPRAISER: Typically, anything with bright colors that really hold the wall and have that presence
APPRAISER: …Tend to sell for more money. Do you have other works by the artist?
GUEST: I think we have a few. I know my grandparents have an extensive collection of her stuff.
APPRAISER: Okay. What would your guess be as to a replacement value for this?
GUEST: I have no concept. I tried to do some research, but couldn't really find anything comparable.
APPRAISER: Well, to be on the safe side, I would suggest that you insure this or put a replacement value on it of around $15,000.
GUEST: Wow. Okay, thank you so much.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.