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Art © Estate of Kenneth Noland / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

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Artist: Kenneth Noland (Born in Asheville, North Carolina, 1924–2010)
Culture: American
Date: 1983
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
86 x 63 x 2 inches (218.4 x 160 x 5.1 cm)
Classification: Painting
Credit Line: Gift of Julie and Lawrence Salander
Label Text:The paintings by Kenneth Noland (Amercian, br. Asheville, NC, 1924 - 2010) belong to the movement in American Art referred to as the second generation or post-painterly abstractionists, that is, the non-figurative painters who follow in the footsteps of the Abstract Expressionists of the 1940's-1950's, (Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning). The greatest influence for Kenneth Noland, however, were the painters in this group who specialized in filling the canvas with pure color, denying any reference to the figure, removing the hand of the artist by minimalizing the appearance of the brushstroke on the surface of the picture, and creating a spiritual effect, such as the color-field artists Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman. But Noland and his contemporaries Morris Louis and Gene Davis, (coined the Washington Color Painters because they lived and worked in D.C.) moved beyond color-field Abstract Expressionism by eliminating any emotional, spiritual, thematic or subjective connotations of any kind. They were the first to assert the right to create a painting that is simply colors on a support, strictly non-representational.

The 1983 work in the Nasher Museum of Art's collection represents a later development of Noland's famous "target" and "chevron" paintings of the early 1960's, when he applied thin bands of pure color onto unbleached, unprimed, raw canvases. Here he maintains the chevron composition, but uses an entirely new technique: the layering of very thick strokes of acrylic paint, each containing a skillful blend of rich colors within, applied as if spreading an un-pliable frosting on a cake. The result is a subtle yet bold display of painterly talent, where we marvel at the way the artist can create such varied effects with only pigment suspended in a plastic-like medium: the watercolor-like washes, the unusual juxtaposition of hundreds of hues, the pastel palette of pinks, whites, lavenders against the saturated yellows and reds, the abrupt stop of the brush seen in the dry bristle marks, the expert application of layer upon layer, and almost-violent pealing off of those layers on the uppermost surfaces.

Object number: 2002.20.3