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Kenneth Noland (1924 - 2010)

Lot 39: KENNETH NOLAND (b. 1924)


May 15, 2001
New York, NY, US

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signed; dated 1958 on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
64 7/8 by 63in. 164.8 by 160cm.
French & Company, Inc., New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1959
New York, French & Company, Inc., Kenneth Noland: Paintings, 1959
For Noland, the center of his pictures provides the origin of all their possibilities and their specific genius. Beginning in the mid-fifties, his discovery of the motif of the concentric circle combined the softening effect of staining pigment - as in Frankenthaler's Mountains and Sea - with the direct "hit" of a bull's-eye center that brings gravity to his pictures. He has said that he "discovered" the center by walking in circles around the periphery of his canvas: the internal spinning
or rotating that is suggested by the concentric bands, echoes this initial act of discovery.
"By organizing a series of concentric circles outward from the midpoint, [Noland] avoided echoing the framing edge and to that extent neutralized it as an enclosing, confining shape: the picture opened outward, expanding from the center." (Kenworth Moffet, Kenneth Noland, New York, 1977, p. 50) In few pictures is the push-pull between enclosing perimeter and focused center as successful as in Sound. The vibrant orange and yellow give way to the cooler green and blue, all played against the velvety black center and buoyed by the undulating black outer halo. The rhythm of the circles alternates from the controlled center bands toward freer circles that break and float apart. This liberating outward motion
mirrors the process of pigment spreading through the weave of raw canvas. As Clement Greenberg described Noland's innovations: "The effect [of bare canvas] conveys a sense not only of color as somehow disembodied and therefore more purely optical, but also of color as a thing that opens and expands the picture plane." ("Louis and Noland", Art International, May 1960, pp. 26-29)

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Contemporary Art Part One

May 15, 2001, 12:00 AM EST

New York, NY, US

For Sale from Sotheby's