Color FieldsOctober 22, 2010–January 10, 2011
shift from the postwar anxiety of the fifties to the vibrancy and
confidence of the early sixties was mirrored by a similar transition in
the visual arts. Many young painters in America began to turn away from
the hallmarks of Abstract Expressionism, particularly its emphasis on
gesture and emotive content. They moved in two general directions: a
radically optical style later termed “Color Field painting,” and an
image- based style called “Pop art,” which adapted material from the
mass media. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, acquired several
examples of Color Field painting at the time they were created and
featured them in landmark exhibitions of the sixties and seventies. The
thirteen artists in the current exhibition are among those included in
these past presentations.
Large-scale canvases by Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Jules Olitski exemplify the flat expanses of color often stained into (rather than painted onto) the support that were characteristic of certain artists of this era. These artists and their contemporaries, in spite of their differences in technique—some applied paint with a traditional brush, while others poured, rolled, soaked, or sprayed their pigments—all explored the nuances and power of color at a moment when the United States was embracing the energy of the youth, as well as trying to break free from the tumult of the previous decades.
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