Kenneth Noland Explained

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Kenneth Noland
Born:10 April 1924
Location:Asheville, North Carolina
Field:Abstract art
Training:Black Mountain College
Movement:Color Field painting
Influenced By:Helen Frankenthaler, Ilya Bolotowsky, Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, Josef Albers

Kenneth Noland (born April 10, 1924) is an American abstract painter. He is identified today as one of the best-known contemporary American Color field painters, although in the 1950s he was thought of as an abstract expressionist and in the early 1960s he was thought of as a minimalist painter.


Noland was born in Asheville, North Carolina. A veteran of World War II he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1942. After his discharge four years later, Noland took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study art at Black Mountain College in his home state of North Carolina. Noland attended the experimental Black Mountain College and he studied with professor Ilya Bolotowsky who introduced him to Neo-plasticism and the work of Piet Mondrian. There he also studied Bauhaus theory and color with Josef Albers[1] and he became interested in Paul Klee, specifically his sensitivity to color.[2] In 1948 and 1949 he worked with Ossip Zadkine in Paris, and in the early 1950s met Morris Louis in Washington DC. He became friends with Louis, and after seeing her new paintings at her studio in New York City in 1953 they adopted Helen Frankenthaler's “soak-stain” technique of allowing thinned paint to soak into unprimed canvases.[3]

Most of Noland's paintings fall into one of four groups: circles, or targets (see Beginning illustrated), chevrons, (see infobox), stripes (see Warm Above illustrated), and shaped canvases. His preoccupation with the relationship of the image to the containing edge of the picture led him to a series of studies of concentric rings, or bull’s-eyes, or as they were known - Targets - like the one reproduced here called Beginning from 1958, using unlikely color combinations. This also led him away from Louis in 1958. Noland pioneered the shaped canvas, initially with a series of symmetrical and asymmetrical diamonds or chevrons. In these paintings, the edges of the canvas become as structurally important as the center. During the 1970s and 1980s his shaped canvases were highly irregular and asymmetrical. These resulted in increasingly complex structures of highly sophisticated and controlled color and surface integrity. In 1964 Noland occupied half the American pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 1965 his work was exhibited at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art and the Jewish Museum (New York).

Further reading

External links


Gowing, L (ed.) 1995, A Biographical Dictionary of Artists, Rev. edn, Andromeda Oxford Limited, Oxfordshire.

Notes and References

  1.,9171,844770,00.html?promoid=googlep retrieved February 8, 2008
  2. retrieved December 30, 2007
  3. Terry Fenton, online essay about Kenneth Noland, and acrylic paint, accessed April 30th, 2007