I haven’t read each and every worshipful Helen Frankenthaler obit, but of those I have seen, only the Los Angeles Times version mentions that she was one of those responsible for gutting the National Endowment for the Arts, especially the visual part: eliminating direct grants to artists. She worked with those who earlier had defunded those pathetic hangers-on, art critics.
Frankenthaler was proud of her conservative stance, as this 1989 piece by her in the New York Times opinion section makes clear. A sample: “I feel there was a time when I experienced loftier minds, relatively unloaded with politics, fashion, and chic.
For those on Facebook, you may wish to read a fine post by historian and critic Mira Schor about the topic, with a fascinating thread of comments. Schor links to NEA-topic columns by Village Voice art reporter Robert Atkins (which, for transparency sake, I must admit I edited).
Take a look. They will give you the tenor of that art-world time.