Kenneth Noland - Contemporary Art and Design Evening Sale New York Tuesday, March 3, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    André Emmerich Gallery, New York
    IBM International Foundation, New York
    New York, Sotheby's, Contemporary Art: Property from the IBM International Foundation, May 3, 1995, lot 224
    Private Collection
    New York, Christie's, Contemporary Art, May 12, 2005, lot 316
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “All art that is expressive has to be illusionistic. The raw material out of which art is built is not necessarily in itself potent; you must transform it.”
    Kenneth Noland, 1990

    Renowned as one of the leading figures of the American Color Field movement, Kenneth Noland has been described by art critic Karen Wilikin as “one of the greatest colorists of the 20th century.” Through its harmonious splendor, Noland’s astounding ability to marry form and color is epitomized in the present lot entitled Chac Volant from 1982. In the relentless pursuit of an adventurous dialogue between hue and geometry, Noland experimented with a number of different formats, ranging from his iconic circles to shaped canvases which are reminiscent of Ellsworth Kelly's shaped monochromatic canvases. Chac Volant, 1982, is comprised of two elements, both of elongated diamond shapes, one rendered in a deep, Yves Klein blue and the other in a delicate shade of ivory. Unique in this format, the present lot is one of the only known works fully realized and intended as a diptych. The edges of each shape are highlighted by a thin line of a varying degree of cerulean blue and alabaster white; the shaped canvases float like drifting islands upon the wall, at once swimming, yet dangerously close to a brilliant collision. This visual effect as explained by Noland is “a simple fact, when you move from one color space to another color space, that if there’s a value contrast you get a strong optical illusion.” (Kenneth Noland in D. Walderman, “Color, Format and Abstract Art,” Art in America, issue 65, no 3, May – June 1977, pp. 99 – 105)

    The distinct components of Chac Volant vary in form and orientation; the left element in its powerful horizontality, is shaped with its own jagged and protruding forms, unlike the white column which rises like a snow-covered mountain. This juxtaposition creates a subtle state of both co-dependence and instability. The very notion of an abstract diptych that is also a multi-directional, shallow relief sculpture creates an ineluctable visual harmony. The search for order in disorder permeates Noland’s artistic vision, as he himself wondered, “what would something be like if it were unbalanced? It's been a vexing question for a long time. But 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.” (Kenneth Noland in D. Walderman, “Color, Format and Abstract Art,” Art in America, issue 65, no 3, May – June 1977, pp. 99 – 105)



Chac volant

diptych, acrylic on shaped canvas
left 20 x 89 1/2 in. (50.7 x 227.4 cm)
right 88 x 16 in. (223.5 x 40.6 cm)
overall 100 5/8 x 130 7/8 in. (250.5 x 332.3 cm)

Each signed, titled respectively and dated "CHAC/VOLANT Kenneth Noland 1982" on the reverse.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale, Contemporary Art
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Meaghan Roddy
Head of Sale, Design
New York
+ 1 212 940 1266

Contemporary Art and Design Evening Sale

New York Auction 3 March 2015 6pm