Kenneth Noland

Salander-O'Reilly Galleries

If, at the beginning of the ’60s, Kenneth Noland seemed to be riding the crest of history, with Clement Greenberg celebrating the artist’s early efforts as the apotheosis of recent American painting, today his endeavor looks decidedly more parochial. Noland borrowed his stain technique from Helen Frankenthaler, but discarded her gestural calligraphy. As with Frankenthaler, Noland’s best paintings are animated by an unabashed estheticism. His early targets, with their simple concentric rings of paint stained directly into unprimed canvas, enabled color to breathe with a heretofore unprecedented immediacy. Though his project in some ways prefigured Minimalism, Noland’s early apologists took pains to distinguish the eminently pictorial status of his paintings from the heretical "theatricality”—the emphasis on the painting’s status as a tactile object—that would later prompt Michael Fried to

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