Blue Zones

Kenneth Noland

American, 1924-2010

Acrylic on canvas


Kenneth Noland studied under artist and colour-theorist Josef Albers at Black Mountain College. His mentor’s influence is clearly visible in Blue Zones, a key example of his Stripe Paintings, which fuse a fascination with geometric abstraction with an exploration of pure colour.  

Together with art critic Clement Greenberg and fellow artist Morris Louis, in 1953 Noland made a studio visit to Helen Frankenthaler, who had adopted a new technique of using thinned pigment to stain the canvas. It was an experience that would have a lasting influence upon him.  

Thereafter, Noland incorporated this technique into his own work, using rich hues and luminous pops of colour to create depth and unexpectedly broke with the precision of his approach to composition. “I wanted to have colour be the origin of the painting,” he said. “I was trying to neutralise the layout, the shape, the composition. I wanted to make colour the generating force.”  

In 1964, he was included in the influential exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction, curated by Clement Greenberg, at the Los Angeles County Art Museum, and exhibited at the Venice Biennale. The Guggenheim held its first retrospective of Noland’s work in 1977, and a second upon his death in 2010.  

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