Ethereal and allusive, all nuance and no schmaltz: Helen Frankenthaler, at Dulwich Gallery, reviewed

In 1950 the 21-year-old painter Helen Frankenthaler, fresh out of college, went to an exhibition at New York’s Betty Parson’s Gallery that changed her whole perspective on art. ‘It was as if I suddenly went to a foreign country,’ she later recalled. ‘I wanted to live in this land; I had to live there, and master the language.’ The language was in fact American and the discoverer of the new land was Jackson Pollock. After seeing his drip paintings Frankenthaler ditched her easel and, too impatient to bother with primer, applied oil paint straight on to canvas on the floor. The oil sank into the canvas, isolating the pigment on