Frances Barth is a noted American artist and teacher. She makes abstract paintings and videos and has been the director of the multi-disciplinary Graduate school at Maryland Institute College of Art, the Mount Royal School of Art, since 2004. Born in New York City, a graduate of Hunter College for both her BFA and MFA, Frances was on the faculty at Yale University from 1986 until 2004, and appointed full professor in 2001. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977 and is in the canon of historically significant women abstract painters working in New York since the 1970's. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others.
"... it's not an overstatement to say that they (Barth's paintings) suggest new possibilities for what abstract painting can encompass in the first part of the 21st century." Karen Wilkin, "Frances Barth" (catalog) 2008, Sundaram Tagore Gallery
Frances Barth's accomplished paintings are wholly individualistic and other than to say they are "radical abstractions" Karen Wilkin, they are eccentric enough to elude classification. Barth refers to aspects of her work as a combination of comic restraint and purist abstraction. Combining contradictory elements of local color with abstract color, vocabularies of both painting and drawing, disorienting spatial relationships, Barth creates works that are as provocatively ambiguous as they are soothingly beautiful. In her desire to "tell stories without words" Barth implies narratives and geographies in a realm between landscape, mapping and abstraction. The narratives in the paintings are stories taking place over a period of geological time, with references both topographic and tectonic, alluding to simultaneous multiple histories. The light that Barth creates within her paintings is a spell-binding presence that shifts the picture plane into a deep dimensional space at the same time that her compositional shifts in scale destabilize. Speaking on her use of color the artist refers to her desire to create "big areas of ungracious color - chemical color that doesn't exist in nature - to open up like the sky but not be sky."