Jessica Ferri at the LA Times:
“Fierce Poise” focuses on the artist in an unconventional way: It covers the years 1950-60 in 11 chapters, each jumping off a specific date during one of those years. The resulting book is lively but short, skimming the surface of Frankenthaler’s work. Nemerov calls this choice “true to Helen” in that “the singularity of a day offers me an unscientific precision — a fluid glimpse into a moment — like Helen’s own.” The conceit is that the early days capture the essence of her work, but the constraint only shortchanges her contested legacy by eliding the rest of her long career.
Frankenthaler always seemed to know she would be a painter. “She started painting seriously at Dalton,” the tony private school, though her mother hoped she would eventually fall in line like her sisters, get married and produce children. Helen, possessed of an eerie “poise” from the start, apparently made up her mind that none of that was for her.