Morris Louis, Theta, 1961, acrylic resin on canvas, 8' 6" x 14'.


“Color as Field: American Painting, 1950–75”

Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Pkwy
November 9–February 3

Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway
June 20–September 21

Smithsonian American Art Museum
8th and F Streets NW
February 29–March 26

Let’s get one thing clear: Color Field painting ain’t coming back. We can no longer even begin to imagine an art history in which the likes of Jack Bush or Friedel Dzubas play major roles. Yet despite the indifference or hostility of many critics, figures like Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Larry Poons will not go away. Their paintings are just too good. What’s needed is a reassessment of the most engaging artists connected with the movement, according to revised criteria. The title of this survey (organized by the American Federation of Arts) suggests it probably won’t provide that reevaluation—not surprising, since curator Karen Wilkin is one of the Old Believers. But keep your eyes open and a few of the forty paintings might make a believer of you too.