Not on view



Acrylic on canvas

Overall: 124 1/4 × 140 1/2in. (315.6 × 356.9 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Rights and reproductions
© Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


In paintings such as Flood, Helen Frankenthaler used oil paint thinned to the consistency of watercolor to create large, curving expanses of variegated color through which the weave of the canvas remained visible. Like her contemporary Jackson Pollock, she placed her canvas directly on the floor and poured paint from above, largely without the aid of a brush. Frankenthaler utilized abstract forms as her painterly language, but she never entirely abandoned a commitment to representation. Although the reference is often subtle, her paintings consistently evoke natural scenes. The undulating forms in Flood relate to a simplified landscape, with layers of sky, cloud, mountain, forest, and water. The zones of oranges, pinks, green, and purple evoke different emotional states. Hue and shape become conveyors of place and feeling. In a statement she provided for the Whitney’s records on Flood, Frankenthaler wrote: “I think of my pictures as explosive landscapes, worlds and distances, held on a flat surface.”