Kenneth Noland, known for Color-field paintings, is dead at 85


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Kenneth Noland, whose groundbreaking Color-field paintings explored the richness of color while hewing to basic shapes such as concentric circles, chevrons, diamonds and stripes, has died at 85.

His wife, Paige Rense, told the New York Times that the North Carolina-born artist died Tuesday of cancer, at home in Port Clyde, Maine. Rense is the editor in chief of Architectural Digest magazine.


Currently on prominent display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles is Noland’s “Untitled (Target),” pictured here. The characteristically large painting from 1963, nearly 8 feet by 8 feet, is a bull’s-eye that chief curator Paul Schimmel chose for “Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years,” the sweeping 30th anniversary exhibition made up of more than 500 of the museum’s most prized and influential works.

From the late 1950s forward, Noland’s style included staining his canvases with pigments rather than dabbing them on with a brush. The idea was to remove attention from the artist’s personal creative acts -- the brush strokes -- and instead emphasize the image’s pure visual presence. Reviewing his 1966 solo exhibition at L.A.’s Nicholas Wilder Gallery, which consisted solely of gigantic paintings of striped bands of color, Los Angeles Times critic William Wilson wrote that Noland’s “successful paintings are masterful. His failures are awnings.”

Wilson noted that the masterful ones contained gradations of iridescence and dwindling light that turned Noland’s minimalist approach into something “oddly romantic, like the light path on water at sunset. When Noland gets such results with such insubstantial means one is willing to entertain the notion that he may prove the most important American painter since Jackson Pollock.”

More later at

-- Mike Boehm