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Kenneth Noland (1924-2010)

Kenneth Noland Circle Painting Color Field

Circle II, I-13, from Handmade Paper Project, 1978; Handmade paper composed of five layers of colored paper pulp with one monotype litho printing; Signed & dated Noland 78 in pencil bottom right; Annotated I-13 in pencil left verso; Published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Bedford, New York, with their blindstamp lower right; Andre Emmerich Gallery sticker on verso of frame; Size - 21 x 32", Frame 22 x 33"; Framed floated on a white mat, silver frame, & plexiglass.

"I knew what a circle could do. Both eyes focus on it. It stamps itself out, like a dot. This, in turn, causes one's vision to spread, as in a mandala in Tantric art." - Kenneth Noland 

In October of 1952 Helen Frankenthaler, after a trip to Nova Scotia, had a breakthrough with a painting entitled "Mountains

and Sea." The painting was abstract and rather than painting the landscape that she saw on her trip, the work portrayed the experience itself. The abstract image was painted using a "soak stain" technique, whereby unprimed canvas duct is painted using oil paint that had been heavily thinned with turpentine. The effects of the technique reinforced the abstract nature of the landscape painting; and when the artists Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis saw it in her studio in New York, their own painting styles were forever changed.

On the train ride back to Washington DC, Noland and Louis realized that Frankenthaler's painting was their key to finding their own paths. Each made the decision to disregard all his own prior work and begin fresh. Noland stated, "We were interested in Pollock but could gain no lead from him. He was too personal. But Frankenthaler showed us a way - a way to think about and use color." Morris Louis found is structure for his color field paintings first with the unfurl series; and soon after Kenneth Noland found his, with the circle paintings. "I knew what a circle could do. Both eyes focus on it. It stamps itself out, like a dot. This, in turn, causes on's vision to spread, as in a mandala in Tantric art," Kenneth Noland.

The circle paintings in the 1960's were Noland's first color format; but would be followed over the years by chevrons, strips, plaids, and irregular paintin series. Noland would return to these early formats in the 1990's using opaque and bold acrylics, however the soak stain technique from the 1960's are by far his greatest achievement.

From Judith Goldman "Kenneth Noland Handmade Papers," 1978:
"From April to August 1978, Kenneth Noland made images out of paper at Tyler Graphics in Bedford, New York. Working with oriental and western fibers and bits of colored paper, he produced oer 200 images. The results were staggering. At first glance, many images seem quite like each other. But no two are the same. Colors vary from filmy blues and bright yellows to soft purples and murky greys. Textures range from wafer-thin oriental surfaces, thick as encrusted cardboard. In some pieces image prevail; in some, structure does. Paper-making is never the point, for Noland, it is a way to explore color and create texture."

The handmade paper works of art completed at Tyler Graphics fall into four categories. The Circle I Series were composed of three layers of colored pulp with three monotype litho printings. The sheet size was 20 x 16" oriented either vertical or horizontal. The Horizontal Stripes Series I-IV were varied by both size and the number of layers of colored pulp. The Diagonal Stripes Series were composed of eight layers of colored pulp. However, the greatest works of art created within the entire handmade paper project were the Circle II Series of artworks. These pieces were his larges circles, and it this format of color field painting that Kenneth Noland is most recognized. The Circle II Series were composed of five layers of colored pulp with one monotype litho printing. The sheet size was 32 x 21" oriented either vertical or horizontal.

This is an absolutely amazing Handmade Paper Circle Painting by Kenneth Noland! The inner circle is yellow, with outward circles of orange, red, pale red, and blue. The ground is a rich sea foam green, that further enhances the interactions of the color fields, overall composition, and balance. A wonderful addition to any art collection.

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