Speculating that Helen Frankenthaler’s Mountains and Sea could sell for more than $10m were it to be sold at auction (the work is currently on loan to the National Gallery in Washington, DC from the artist’s estate,) Judd Tully tries to determine the market value of the artists’ work:
The artist’s breakout painting, the 1952 “Mountains and Sea,” introduced her new technique. It flabbergasted both critics and fellow artists, essentially establishing her career and greatly influencing a new generation of painters in what would become known as Color Field painting. As Sandler recalls, “She figured out something interesting and original to do with Pollock, and she sort of stood out doing that.”
Her timing was impeccable. “Back then in 1958 to 1960, there was a real blood bath, and the entire Second Generation kind of got wiped out,” Sandler recalls. He attributes that slaughter to the entry of Pop art and successive movements such as Minimalism — or as he puts it, “anything that wasn’t gestural.”
[…] But the noted abstract painter and world-class colorist, who certainly had a poetic gift for titling her beautiful paintings, hasn’t suffered in the secondary market.
Last November at Christie’s New York, for example, “Royal Fireworks,” a huge acrylic-on-canvas from 1975 sold for a record $818,500 (est. $250,000-350,000).
At Frankenthaler’s December 2009 solo show at Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, meanwhile, paintings were on offer from approximately $400,000 to $1 million, according to Yohe.