Helen Frankenthaler, Awesome Painter, Dead at 83

Helen Frankenthaler, the great abstract painter (and legendary party-thrower) died today "after a long illness." She was 83. Frankenthaler's big abstract paintings—made by staining canvas with thin paint—were among the best-known of the "second generation" of abstract expressionism. And even if you don't like them (which, hey, whatever, "art"), you will probably appreciate this story from the Times obit:

Ms. Frankenthaler's passion for dancing was more than fulfilled in 1985 when, at a White House dinner to honor the Prince and Princess of Wales, she was partnered with a fast stepper who had been twirling the princess.

"I'd waited a lifetime for a dance like this," she wrote in a 1997 Op-Ed article for The New York Times. "He was great!"

His name meant nothing to her until, on returning to her New York studio, she showed her assistant and a friend his card. "John Travolta," it read.

Above, "Mountains and Sea," the first painting made with her staining technique, and still her most famous. You can see it IRL at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

[NYT; image of Frankenthaler via AP]