Fall Blues

 
Artist
Creation date
Materials
acrylic on canvas
Dimensions
65 7/8 x 64 7/8 x 1 1/8 in.
Credit line
Gift of Sylvia and Joseph Slifka
Accession number
2004.62
Collection
Not Currently On View

Associated with the Washington Color School, Kenneth Noland is well known for his concentric circle paintings. This is an example of one of Noland's later circle works. Unlike the earlier paintings, in which the artist left the canvas bare around the edges, the circles in this painting rest on a broad field of dark blue, creating the appearance of a celestial body hovering in a dark autumn sky.

With the unprimed canvas directly on the floor, Noland worked from the center outward. He traced concentric circles in pencil around plates and hoops and then filled them in with intense acrylic colors, often diluted with turpentine to ensure even saturation.

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Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

In 1949, Kenneth Noland settled in Washington, D.C., where he met Morris Louis. Both artists, who later became associated with the Washington Color School, visited New York City in 1953; there they saw Helen Frankenthaler's stain paintings and began experimenting with similar techniques. In 1958, Noland started working on his abstract concentric-circle paintings, sometimes referred to as targets. With the unprimed, unsized, square canvas placed directly on the floor, Noland would find its center and work outward. First he drew in pencil around plates and hoops, then filled in the concentric circles with intense acrylic colors, often diluted to ensure an even saturation of the paint. In 1959, the gallery French and Company in New York City showed fifteen of these pulsating works in a solo exhibition that critics, including the noted modernist Clement Greenberg, overwhelmingly praised.

Fall Blues is one of Noland's later circle works. The central red form is surrounded by a narrow ring of unprimed canvas, followed by a wider ring of translucent layers of blue and red paint. Unlike the earlier works, in which Noland left the canvas bare around the edges, this painting displays circles completely surrounded by a broad field of dark blue paint, creating the appearance of a celestial body hovering in a dark autumn sky.

His color counts by its clarity and its energy; it is not there neutrally, to be carried by the design and the drawing; it does the carrying itself.
-Art critic Clement Greenberg, 1960