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Kenneth Noland: The Hard Edge

Kenneth Noland - Graded Exposure - 1967 - Acrylic on canvas - 225.4 x 581.7 cm. (88.7 x 229 in.) - Private Collection (click photo for larger image)American artist Kenneth Noland (1924-2010) was part of the Color Field group of artists that practiced hard-edge abstraction—an approach that combines the crisp geometric abstraction with saturated color and bold, singular forms. Noland was interested in removing all texture, gesture, and emotional content from his paintings.

Inspired by the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Noland used the technique she had developed of staining the canvas with thinned paints, and he positioned his colors in concentric rings and parallels, shaped and proportioned in relation to the shape of the canvas. Consequently, the viewer would look at the canvas as a complete object, rather than looking into it for further depth or meaning.

In the late 1960s, Noland began to produce his Striped paintings. The work featured here measures nearly 19 feet wide. Noland painted his stripes progressively thinner towards the top, as if the image were receding into the distance. The rainbow-like effect of coloring also suggests a horizon that extends beyond the canvas. This visual effect, however, should not be confused with any particular subject matter or context.

Noland’s work embodies influences from Piet Mondrian, Josef Albers, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman—all of whom helped to pave the way for Minimalism and other future movements. (You can also read more about these artists right here on What About Art?)

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