submitted photo The Journal
Rockford Guilford High School art students stop to pose for photos in front of Helen Frankenthaler’s White Makes Four in Bold Abstractions during Rockford Art Museum’s annual Portfolio Day art college fair on Nov. 18. The 1966 acrylic on canvas painting is on loan from the collection of Carl and Marilynn Thoma. Photo courtesy Rockford Art Museum, Illinois.

Bold Abstractions: Paintings from the Thoma Collection is on view through Jan. 26 at RAM with free daily admission throughout the exhibition provided by support from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation. This 15-week major exhibition, organized by Carrie Johnson, executive director/curator of Rockford Art Museum, marks the first time the couple’s significant post-war painting collection has been shown at a public institution.
Bold Abstractions explores new forms of abstract painting from the 1960s, following the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, and features an international group of 33 artists associated with some of the key painting movements of the mid-20th century: Color Field, Post-Painterly Abstraction, Hard-Edge, and Op Art—including Helen Frankenthaler, a defining force in the development of American painting who has long been recognized as one of the great American artists of the 20th century.
London’s famed Tate Modern museum is also showcasing postwar American abstraction this season, with five paintings by Helen Frankenthaler currently on view—one of which recently became its first acquisition by the legendary artist, reported ARTnews this week. About the piece, Tate said in a statement the gift from the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation “transforms our ability to represent postwar American abstraction, while also reflecting the vital contribution made by women artists, such as Frankenthaler, during a critical moment in art history.”
Rockford Art Museum visitors can view Helen Frankenthaler’s White Makes Four in Bold Abstractions for free through Jan. 26 at RAM, located inside the Riverfront Museum Park building, 711 North Main St. in downtown Rockford. RAM is regularly open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed Nov. 28, Dec. 25).
Support for Bold Abstractions: Paintings from the Thoma Collection and its related educational programming—including free daily admission to all visitors for the duration of the exhibition—is provided by the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, and partially supported by a Partners in Excellence grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
About the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation:
Founded in 2014 and based in Chicago and Santa Fe, the Thoma Foundation recognizes the power of the arts to challenge and shift perceptions, spark creativity and connect people across cultures. Learn more at
About Rockford Art Museum:
Founded in 1913, Rockford Art Museum exists to help make life in Rockford better through a permanent art collection, frequent art exhibitions, and lifelong art education. RAM is located inside the Riverfront Museum Park building, 711 North Main Street in downtown Rockford, Illinois. Connect with us on Facebook @rockfordartmuseum and Instagram @rockfordart #rockfordartmuseum, and go behind the scenes with us on our free mobile app. Learn more at

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