This painting by Ray Parker, from 1958, is from the very first year in the best known period of the artist's work, 1958-1959. This period drew attention to Parker as the most abstract artist in the second generation of the New York school.
The 1958-1959 works became known due to the show and catalogue by B. H. Friedman in late 1959 at the Stable show, School of New York, Some Younger Artists. Other artists shown with Parker were Johns, Rauschenberg, and Frankenthaler. Due to this show, and subsequent ones at Kootz, Parker was noticed by writers like William Rubin, Thomas Hess and Barbara Rose.
"The indecisive 1957 facture was replaced in 1958 by a new direction with a strategy emphasizing two to four round or oblong shapes with hazy and frayed contours, whose majesty and spaces followed the frames format" (Humblet, p. 740).
As such in the Stable show and, starting in 1960, three successive one person shows at Kootz, Parker became an alternative to both abstract expressionism and geometric strategies. While at first glance these 1958-1960 paintings seem 100 abstract, upon closer inspection the forms are often based on the human body erect or, in the case of this 1958 picture, sideways reclining or swimming.
With his blurred and ragged color fields, Parker in 1958 turned abstraction toward new openings.