Kenneth Noland’s New Paintings

IN HIS LATEST PAINTINGS, Kenneth Noland is forcing an encounter with pure color to a pitch where, in my experience, one is either repelled by a given painting and blocks the experience, or else one closes with it and lets the experience take over. I am not talking here of the countless times one quashes a painful coloristic dazzle simply because it proffers nothing but its unique power of irritation—the experiencing or not experiencing of Noland’s new paintings is not of this order. It should be stressed however, that in his latest paintings, Noland is exploiting optical dazzle and illusionism to a new and important degree. (Larry Poons is the only other painter who comes to mind as an artist who possesses a fine control over this kind of illusionism and who uses it to powerful effect.)

My immediate reaction on seeing Noland’s latest paintings was to become aware of a struggle: the force

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