Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Honoring One of Our Own

There has always been a play between the actual symmetry of the picture shape (square, horizontal, diamond, shape, etc.) and the symmetry of layout, which opens the depicted forms to the use of color -- to sound or harmonize in an expressive way. -Kenneth Noland


Kenneth Noland, a great artist and Asheville native, died on Tuesday at the age of 85. An abstract expressionist painter, he was a main figure in the color field movement that involved large canvases, poured paint, and a rethinking of color perception. His training at Black Mountain college introduced him to Bauhaus principles and color theories, for which he became a notable and important artist in the abstract expressionist movement.

Noland painted geometric shapes on large canvases using bold colors. Visually similar to targets, these paintings evoke motion through their use of shape and color.

The Asheville Art Museum has three paintings by Kenneth Noland, one of which, North South East West, is currently on display in the exhibition Looking Forward: New Works and New Directions for the Permanent Collection. Unfortunately, I cannot upload photos here of his work because of copyright, but check out his paintings on line and in person at the Asheville Art Museum. His official site is

Noland was a great friend of the Asheville Art Museum. Thank you for all that you have done for Asheville and the art world. We will miss you.

A bit of a bio:
Nolan's mother was an amateur musician and his father was a painter who had studied under an Impressionist.
He served in the Air force as a glider pilot and cryptographer
He attended Black Mountain College.
His first one man exhibition was in 1949 at Galerie Raymond Creuze, in Paris.
He settled in Washington D.C.
He returned to Black Mountain College and met Clement Greenberg and Helen Frankenthaler.
He experimented with Frankenthaler's method of staining unprimed canvas with acrylic. His work gradually became more hard-edged and geometric, featuring circular or ellipsoid rings, chevrons and targets. In 1958 he created concentric circle canvases, generally considered his first mature works. In 1962 he began the cat's-eye series.
He moved to New York in the spring of 1962.
He bought Robert Frost's farm in Vermont.
His works were exhibited in 1964 with the Minimalist group known as "The Washington Color Painters."
He began making sculptures after buying some materials from the David Smith estate.
His forms became more loose; horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines overlapped to involve the space outside of the picture plane.
He began to work in metal sculpture and to produce shaped canvases during the 1970s.
He was elected to the American Academy and Institutes of Arts and Letters.
His works are in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He was awarded the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts in 1992.
His remains will be interred in the Montford area in Asheville.

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