Kenneth Noland - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paige Rense Noland 2008 Marital Trust
    Yares Art Projects, Santa Fe
    Private Collection, Arizona
    Yares Art Projects, Santa Fe

  • Exhibited

    New York, Ameringer Howard Yohe Fine Arts Gallery, Kenneth Noland: Colors, April 18 – May 24, 2002
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, Yares Art Projects, Kenneth Noland: Full Circle, Paintings 1999-2002, October 5 - December 8, 2012

  • Literature

    Kenneth Noland: Colors, exh. cat., Ameringer Howard Yohe Fine Arts Gallery, New York, 2002, p. 19 (illustrated)
    Kenneth Noland: Full Cricle, Mysteries Series Paintings, 1999-2002, exh. cat., Yares Art Projects, Santa Fe, New Mexico, p. 15 (illustrated)

  • 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. Contours, tactility, touch, color, intervals, that’s all part of the concreteness of art. You have to make the concreteness expressive.” Kenneth Noland in conversation with Karen Wilkin, 1986-88

    Mysteries: Aglow belongs to the dynamic series of concentric circle paintings by Kenneth Noland first conceived in the 1960s, and revised three-decades later. Completed in his signature abstract style, this energetic work exemplifies the Color Field painter’s evolution within his circular compositions, as well as his remarkable ability to tap into rudimentary emotions through non-objective form.
    In his 1970 historical account Abstract Expressionism, Irvine Sandler assigned the term “color field painting” to works executed circa 1950 by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still. About ten years later, a more abstract form of Color Field painting developed through the work of Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Alma Thomas, and others. By removing the gestural application and heightened mythology associated with Abstract Expressionism, artists like Noland communicated a remarkable emotional and visual intensity using limited elements. The prominent critic Clement Greenberg wrote of Noland in Art International, “His color counts by its clarity and energy; it is not there neutrally, to be carried by the design and drawing; it does the carrying itself.” (Clement Greenberg, “Louis and Noland,” Art International, May 1960, pp. 94-100)

    As a World War Two veteran under the G.I. Bill, Noland spent his formative artistic years at the progressive Black Mountain College near his hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. The school stressed self-sufficiency and radical experimental thought through a well-rounded curriculum of academics, arts, and manual labor. There he studied briefly under the tutelage of Josef Albers and then Ilya Bolotowsky, whose style proved more expressive than the famously methodical Albers. Soon after, while teaching at the ICA in Washington, Noland met Greenberg and Helen Frankenthaler, under whose influence he began experimenting with stain technique.

    Along with Morris Louis, Noland began applying oil paint thinned with turpentine to unprimed canvas, allowing the support’s surface to emerge from beneath. After water-soluble pigments such as acrylic entered the market in the 1960s, artists exercised greater freedom with a medium that could retain its bright quality regardless of a sheer or opaque application. As seen in the present lot, the thin layer of acrylic allows for material and surface to effortlessly merge. This practice diverged from the Abstract Expressionist practice of “all-over” composition and from the desire to represent three-dimensional, representational form. Noland remained fiercely loyal to formalist values, depending on color and composition to underline painting’s two-dimensionality.

    Toward the end of his academic career at Black Mountain, Noland began to stray from the geometrical abstraction exemplified by Bolotowsky, turning instead to the work of artists in the School of Paris, including Joan Miró. He looked toward Miró’s abstract forms, as well as Pablo Picasso’s neoclassical figures and the still lifes of Henri Matisse, to understand the handling of material. “The cubist abstract way of painting was more like a process of predisposition…you planned and you conceived it beforehand. To paint out of Matisse, or, say, to use color, you had to learn how to use the materials somehow.” (interview with Paul Cummings, December 9, 1971, Archives of American Art, p. 11) Noland began working with concentric circles (rather than overlapping forms like the Cubists) on square canvases in 1958, oftentimes in complementary hues. By the 1960s, he demonstrated greater audacity in his application of color and accentuated the divisive lines between circles. The present lot is a reference – a kind of retrospective of his own oeuvre—back to his formalist abstractionist beginnings working with unprimed canvas. Mysteries: Aglow features bands of various widths in a vivacious range of grass green, seafoam blue, and chartreuse green hues, whose edges soften out from the center. The prominently glowing pink center, in contrast to the blues and greens, at once anchors the painting in the center while the bands radiate centrifugally.

    Mysteries: Aglow, though similar in configuration, contrasts from Noland’s earlier “target” paintings from 1958 to 1962. Drought, 1962, features thinner concentric circles of color, as well as more clearly demarcated bands of equally saturated goldenrod and royal blue. In similar outward motion, the edges fade into hushed gradations of blue and grey. While Noland was executing his target paintings, Sam Francis—who appeared with Noland in Greenberg’s Post Painterly Abstraction exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1964—broadened the use of shape and hue at a time when Color Field, Pop Art, and Minimalism began to eclipse Abstract Expressionism in the United States. In Blue Balls, 1960, biomorphic globules and ovoid shapes gravitate toward the edges of the canvas, suggesting velocity and consequently drawing the viewer’s attention to the bounds of the picture frame. This magnetic pull underscores a suppression of the center as focus; rather, the composition suggests multiple focal points away from the center. Furthermore, these globules perhaps evoke a greater pictorial space existing outside the material plane. Through an extensive exploration of concentric form and visual experience of pure color, Mysteries: Aglow asks the viewer to contemplate vision itself. “You see things out of the corner of your mind or the corner of your eye that affect you just as strongly as things that you focus on, if not more so” (in conversation with Karen Wilkin, 1986-88)


Mysteries: Aglow

acrylic on canvas
72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "Kenneth Noland Mysteries, 'Aglow' 2002" on the reverse.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $605,000

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Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm