Kenneth Noland American, 1924-2010


“I think of painting without subject matter as music without words.”

– Kenneth Noland

Kenneth Noland was an American Abstract Expressionist painter who worked in both Europe and the United States. He began his artistic career in the late 1940s at Black Mountain College, which was then a hub of avant-garde, Bauhaus-influenced abstract art. Noland was particularly influenced by his studies with Ilya Bolotowsky and Josef Albers, including Albers’ use of colour and Bolotowsky’s geometric compositions.


Noland traveled to Paris in 1948 and absorbed the influence of Matisse and Paul Klee. He became interested in finding a balance between colour and geometric form, although colour was his “prime concern.” In the catalogue for Noland’s Retrospective at the Guggenheim, Diane Waldman writes that “Noland pioneered in the use of color as area, color as sensation, color as a tangible entity… color as the very basis of painting” (Diane Waldman, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, 1977, p. 26).


Noland’s paintings are characterized by saturated expanses of colour divided by precise lines. He was also interested in how the shape and size of the canvas would interact with the forms in the painting. This led him to experiment with diamonds, narrow rectangles, and other polygons. In the early 1970s, Noland began to paint “vertical plaid pictures” (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, 1977, p. 43), which he first exhibited at Andre Emmerich Gallery in 1971. Manx (1972) belongs to this “plaid” period in Noland’s career.


Noland's work has been exhibited internationally at museums and galleries, and his paintings are held in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York; the Tate Gallery, London, the Zürich Kunsthaus; the Albright-Knox, Buffalo; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Detroit Institute of Arts; LACMA, Los Angeles; the Kunstmuseum, Basel; the Hirschhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Centre Georges PompidouParis; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Stedelijk MuseumAmsterdam; among others.

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