Helen Frankenthaler produced this work on the floor of her Provincetown, Massachusetts, studio, standing and kneeling inside the black-rimmed circle and applying color with rollers, cloths, and palette knives. Using her signature staining technique, the artist overlapped translucent washes of color with gestural punches of pigment on unprimed canvas; diluted oil paint seeps from the edges of the forms as a result.

Frankenthaler had begun working with rolls of unprimed canvas directly on the floor years earlier, inspired in part by Jackson Pollock’s action painting approach. “You could become a de Kooning disciple or satellite or mirror,” she said, “but you could depart from Pollock.” This work finds Frankenthaler’s practice at its most reductive, her composition pared down to an amorphous image floating in space, just over the circle.