Helen Frankenthaler Foundation



Frankenthaler in her studio,

East 83rd Street, New York, 1973

Photograph by Edward Youkilis

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation supports educational and research initiatives that advance the contemporary practice of painting and the academic study of modern art history. The Foundation also embraces causes that reflect Frankenthaler’s passions and vision, with a particular emphasis on higher education and the support of opportunities for living artists.


The following list summarizes select discretionary grants by year.




Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Fellowship in Modern and Contemporary Art

A groundbreaking $2 million gift was announced in July for the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), supporting the museum's Research and Scholars Center. This gift establishes an endowment to support the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation Fellowship in Modern and Contemporary Art, marking the largest contribution ever to the museum's fellowship program. 


Frankenthaler Climate Initiative: Phase III


The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation expands its commitment to climate action in the visual arts, increasing funding for its Frankenthaler Climate Initiative (FCI) from $10 million to a total of $15 million and extending the grantmaking program to include at least two additional cycles in 2024 and 2025. This extension builds upon the success and growth of the initiative since first launching in 2021, which has included the tripling of the Foundation’s initial $5 million commitment and the broadening of its applicant parameters to include museums, non-collecting visual arts organizations, and art schools.


The Foundation is awarding $2.7 million to 48 art organizations nationwide through this third grantmaking cycle, launched earlier this year, bringing the total funding conferred to date to more than $10.8 million. Developed and implemented in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute and Environment & Culture Partners, the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative is the largest private national grant-making program of its kind.


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Frankenthaler Prints Initiative: Phase II


The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation announced ten new recipients for the second round of its Frankenthaler Prints Initiative, an ongoing program for university-affiliated art museums that reflects the Foundation’s commitment to supporting undergraduate and graduate education in the visual arts and art history.


The awardees include ten museums from across the U.S., each of which will receive a group of prints and five to ten related trial proofs drawn from the Foundation’s extensive collection of work by Frankenthaler. The museums also receive a one-time grant of $25,000 to develop a project or program for the study, presentation, and interpretation of the editions and proofs within a three-year timeframe. 


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Frankenthaler Climate Initiative: Phase III Application Cycle Opens


The third application cycle of the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative will open for submissions on February 20, 2023 accepting proposals supporting energy efficiency and clean energy projects at visual art museums and art schools throughout the United States. This is the third cycle of the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative which marks a continuation of the Foundation’s $10-million, multi-year commitment to address climate change through cultural institutions.




Frankenthaler Climate Initiative: Phase II


Advancing its $10 million commitment to climate action in the visual arts, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation expands its Climate Initiative with the next round of grants. Following the first phase of the initiative, which awarded funds exclusively to collecting museums, this second cycle of grants will reach a broader community within the visual arts by accepting applications from both collecting and non-collecting museums and institutions, including art schools, that are seeking to assess and rectify their impact on the environment. Nearly 50 institutions have received grants in this second cycle, with some $8.1 million conferred to date.


For more information visit www.frankenthalerclimateinitiative.org

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Watch Helen Frankenthaler Foundation for ART 2030


Emergency Grants for Global Artists at Risk and for Cultural Heritage Conservation Efforts in Ukraine


As part of its ongoing commitment to address critical issues impacting the visual arts, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation dispersed $2.5 million to international organizations leading efforts to protect artists at risk around the world and cultural heritage in Ukraine. Working with PEN America and World Monuments Fund, the Foundation identified and addressed several core needs including emergency grants to artists, sustaining displaced and suppressed artists over time, and preserving both sites and collections important to cultural history.


Read ARTnews article

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Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards


Presented by Asia Society and the Foundation, the Frankenthaler Climate Art Awards aim to foster climate change awareness through the imagination and insights of an upcoming generation of visual artists.  Emerging artists (recent graduates or those enrolled in MFA programs in the U.S.) submitted work addressing climate change through www.climateartawards.org, and three recipients were selected by a jury panel comprised of leaders from four museums. The winners received a cash prize and were honored at a ceremony at the Kennedy Center in April 2022 on the occasion of Asia Society's COAL + ICE exhibition.


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Frankenthaler Climate Initiative


Building on the Foundation’s social impact philanthropy, the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative is a multi-year grant-making program designed to advance the goal of carbon neutrality in the visual arts. The Foundation conferred its full initial commitment of more than $5 million to nearly 80 collecting institutions across more than 25 states in its inaugural cycle. It has also dedicated an additional $5 million to be awarded over the next two years.

For more information and a full list of 2021 grantees, visit www.frankenthalerclimateinitiative.org

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Helen Frankenthaler Foundation COVID-19 Relief Effort


Contributions to date include Foundation for Contemporary Arts COVID-19 Relief Fund, Artist Relief, a consortium of 15 NYC-based arts organizations, the Tri-State Relief Fund to Support Non-Salaried Workers in the Visual Arts, and the Hamptons Arts Network Artist Relief Fund. Additional contributions have been made to the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, Guild Hall, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Montclair Art Museum, Parrish Art Museum, The Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.


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Frankenthaler Digital Initiative


Contributions to date include Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The Studio Museum in Harlem.


Equity and Access Grants


Contributions to date include ArtsConnection, ArtTable, House of SpeakEasy, and Studio Institute.




Foundation for Contemporary Arts, to establish the Helen Frankenthaler Award for Painting.


Frankenthaler Scholarships, in painting and art history for graduate students, awarded to The Graduate Center, CUNY, Harvard University, Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, Stanford University and University of Chicago.


Studio Museum in Harlem, to endow the Helen Frankenthaler Research Library through a gift to the capital campaign.


Madison Square Park Conservancy, support for Martin Puryear's presentation for the U.S. Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.




Frankenthaler Scholarships, in painting and art history for graduate students, awarded to Columbia University School of the Arts, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, and Yale School of Art.


Frankenthaler Prints Initiative, comprising gifts of selected prints and grants to develop related programs, awarded to Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts/Hammer Museum, UCLA, The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Princeton University Art Museum, RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence.


The Art Institute of Chicago, support for educational programs in connection with exhibition Helen Frankenthaler Prints: The Romance of a New Medium.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, support of the exhibition Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future.

Triangle Arts Association, operating support.

Women Make Movies, support for a film on Pat Steir by Victoria Gonzalez Pena.




Center for Curatorial Leadership, operating support.


Film Forum, support for The Helen Frankenthaler Endowed Fund for Films on Art.


Madison Square Park Conservancy, support for Summer 2017 Prismatic Park project.


Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, support for construction of new building for artist studios.


University of Connecticut, support for the performance, recording, and production of Spiritualist (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra after three works by Helen Frankenthaler), by Kenneth Fuchs.


Vermont Studio Center, support for Frankenthaler Fellowships for visual artists.




American Academy in Rome, 2016-2017 season sponsor for international lecture series, “Conversations / Conversazioni.”


Archives of American Art,  support of oral history program.


Association of Art Museum Curators, operating support.


BOMB Magazine, operating support.


Brooklyn Museum, support for renovation of European galleries. 


Colorado Public Television, support for development of CPT12 PBS documentary, “Women of Abstract Expressionism.”


The Dalton School, support for new visual art building.

French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, operating support for Étant Donnés.


Grey Art Gallery, New York University, support for exhibition titled Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965.


Human Arts Association, support for post-production of documentary film about artist Elizabeth Murray.


Rose Art Museum, support of exhibition program.


Storm King Art Center, support of exhibition program.




The Aspen Institute, support for second-stage research on artist-endowed foundations.


The Brooklyn Rail, support for "In Conversation" series for 2015-2017.


Center for Contemporary Printmaking, operating support.


Des Moines Art Center, support for exhibition titled East and Beyond: Frankenthaler and her Contemporaries.


Dorsky Museum, support for exhibition titled Bradley Walker Tomlin.


The Drawing Center, program support for "Open Sessions" series.


International Foundation for Art Research, operating support.


MIT List Visual Arts Center, support for Joan Jonas’s presentation for U.S. Pavilion at 56th International Art Exhibition La Biennale Venezia, They Come to Us Without a Word.


Montclair Art Museum, support for exhibition titled Matisse and American Art.


museum in progress and International Friends of the Vienna State Opera, support for 2015-2016 “Safety Curtain” project, by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster.


Yaddo, support for creation of new ''live-work'' studio for visual artists.




Bennington College, support to establish Helen Frankenthaler Fund for the Visual Arts, to advance the study of the arts at Bennington in new ways.


The Brooklyn Rail, support for publication, Come Together: Surviving Sandy, Year 1.


The Clark Art Institute, support for conference “Make It New? Conversations on Mid-Century Abstraction.” environment.