Viewing Room

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Kenneth NOLAND

7

1964
162 x 160 cm (63 ³/₄ x 63 inches)
Signed, titled and dated on the reverse: 7 1964 Kenneth Noland


Provenance:
Lawrence Rubin Gallery, New York
Galerie Lawrence, Paris
Kasmin Limited, London
Private Collection, New York
The Department of Art, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
Christie’s, New York, November 12, 1980, lot 55
HSBC Corporate Art Collection
Sotheby’s New York, May 11, 2005, lot 173
Private collection, France
 


Literature:
Kenworth Moffet,Kenneth Noland, New York, 1977, pl. 149, illustrated
 


Exhibition:
- Providence, Rhode Island, Bell Gallery, List Art Center, Brown University, Art Department Collects, 
April-May 1972, n°5
- Kingston, Rhode Island, University of Rhode Island, Fine Art Center Dedication Show, 
October-November 1972
 


"We tend to discount a lot of meaning that goes on in life that's non-verbal. Color can convey a total range of mood and expression, of one's experience in life, without having to give it descriptive or literary qualities”            

Kenneth Noland’s exceptional use of color has earned him the reputation of one of the foremost American Color Field Painters. The Diamond paintings of the mid-1960s are among his most iconic series.

“It took the experience of working with radical kinds of symmetry, not just a rectangle, but a diamond shape, as well as extreme extensions of shapes, before I finally came to the idea of everything being unbalanced, nothing vertical, nothing horizontal, nothing parallel. I came to the fact that unbalancing has its own order. In a peculiar way, it can still end up feeling symmetrical.” says Kenneth Noland to Diane Waldman during the interview for Art in America in 1977. 

Leading American Color Field painter Kenneth Noland masterfully transcend the limitations of geometric compositions, exactly as his celebrated series of Diamond paintings. 

The present work 7executed in 1964 stands as one of the artist's earliest representations on shaped canvas. Divided into symmetrical bands, the colors are shaped in triangles towards the topmost point of the diamond, it creates a collective sense of movement.
Donald Judd articulates this sophisticated sense of movement in his seminal 1965 essay, “Specific Objects”: “Almost all paintings are spatial in one way or another…As flat and unillusionistic as Noland’s paintings are, the bands do advance and recede” (D. Judd, “Specific Objects”, Arts Yearbook 8, 1965). 

In the mid-1960s, Noland began appraising the canvas as an active tool in the artistic process. Along with Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, he developed a stain painting technique that allowed the paint to seep into the unprimed canvas. The raw base created a shocking vibrancy once the paint was applied, and the qualities of acrylic, which suspends the pigment in an oil medium, prevents the color from ever deteriorating over time. 7 thus appears as fresh as the day it was painted in 1964, and the depth of pigment embedded into the canvas gives a superlative sense of chromatic sophistication.

The tonality achieved through contrast heightens each individual color and lends strength in the overall composition. As the artist explains, “Value differences in painting always cut in…Color differences always go side by side. Laterally. Color differences can illustrate three dimensional form, but using color in terms of hue belongs more properly to painting than modeling with dark and light [as in sculpting] does” (K. Noland quoted in K. Wilkin, Kenneth Noland, New York, 1990,p.22).    
Equally striking is Noland’s decision to tilt the canvas forty-five degrees, his inventiveness with orientation challenges the traditional practice of the canvas as a passive receptacle for the image. By rotating the canvas on its axis, the composition becomes energized, and directly shapes the impact of the paintings. The striking disorientation of a rotated canvas causes the viewer to anchor themselves visually by the four corners, bringing the perpendicular relationship between the bands and the edge of the canvas into focus, shifting the perspective of where color begins and ends in its allotted space. Color is at once fixed and displaced by the novel shape of the canvas, a vision masterfully executed by the artist.