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Kenneth Noland: Untitled, 1973

Item Details

Kenneth Noland (American, 1924-2010)
from the artist’s ‘Plaid’ series
acrylic on cotton duck
label on verso stretcher with the following information:

The Stretcher Co.
Artist Kenneth Noland
Size 16′ × 12′
Medium Acrylic/ Cotton Duck
510 Broome St., N.Y.C.

also inscribed in hand on canvas verso, Kenneth Noland/ 1973?
housed in artist’s original frame

Ex Collection of critic and curator Kenworth Moffett (1934-2016) and Lucy Baker (b.1955)
Descended in the family to the current owner

An acrylic painting on cotton duck, created circa 1973 by renowned Modern American artist Kenneth Noland (1924-2010). Referred to as Plaid by the Frank H. Boos Gallery (Appraisal, 2003), this work is part of Noland’s ‘Plaid’ series that spanned from roughly 1969 to 1974. Typical of the artist’s work from this period, it features a truncated grid of crossing orange lines of varying widths, against a purple background. In outer peripheral areas, parts of the intersecting lines are accented in blues and light oranges contrasting the burnt orange pigment filling the rest of the grid design. The painting is signed and dated ‘1973?’ to the verso.

This work was likely a direct gift from Noland to American curator Kenworth Moffett (1934-2016), who specialized in Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painters. Moffett included Noland in his curated exhibitions such as Abstract Paintings in the 70’s (1971), and he also wrote a monograph on Noland published in 1977.

Kenneth Noland was born in Asheville, North Carolina, and studied at Black Mountain College under renowned Modern artists Josef Albers (1888-1976) and Ilya Bolotowsky (1907-1981). Subsequently, in the late 1940s, he traveled to Paris and studied for a year in the Montparnasse studio of Russian-born Cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine (1890-1907). Celebrated as a major contributor to the development of American Color Field painting, Noland’s signature style consisted of simplified abstract geometric shapes, such as stripes, targets, chevron patterns and plaid patterns. Art critic Karen Wilkin (b. 1940) referred to him as ‘one of the greatest colorists of the 20th century’ who, along with Morris Louis (1912-1962) and Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), ‘invented a new kind of American abstraction based on the primacy of color’. His work was heavily critiqued and promoted by renowned Modern art critic Clement Greenberg (1909-2010), along with other mid-century Modernists including Anthony Caro (1924-2013), Helen Frankenthaler, and Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) among others.

Noland and Greenberg’s long history likely began as early as 1950, when Greenberg taught and lectured at Black Mountain College. Greenberg included Noland in his 1954 exhibition Emerging Talent held at the Kootz Gallery in New York. Greenberg coined the term ‘Post-Painterly Abstraction’ to describe Noland’s work when he organized an exhibition by the same name in 1964 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the exhibition featured 31 artists including Noland, Friedel Dzubas (1915-1994), Jules Olitski (1922-2007), Morris Louis, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others.

Noland’s relationship with British sculptor Anthony Caro began in 1959; Noland’s abstract work likely impacted Caro’s departure from his earlier figurative style toward work featuring geometric forms. Noland’s relationship with Caro and Modern artist Jules Olitski continued to develop in the 1960s when Noland moved to a farm in South Shaftbury, Vermont nearby Bennington College where both Olitski and Caro taught. The work of the three artists maintained associative ties both during their lifetimes and posthumously. They were the stars of Hartford Art School’s three-person exhibition at the Joseloff Gallery in 1994, and their work continues to be exhibited together in exhibitions today.

The 1970s included Noland’s ‘Plaid’ series, described as an evolution of his earlier ‘Chevron’ series and characterized by thin intersecting rectilinear lines. Works from the series were exhibited in various exhibition’s including Noland’s traveling retrospective that originated at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1977, curated by celebrated curator and art historian Diane Waldman (b. 1936), and Kenneth Noland: The Nature of Color exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2005.

Throughout his career, Noland taught at several institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Washington, D.C.; the Catholic University in Washington, D.C.; the Washington Workshop Center for the Arts; and Bard College in upstate New York, to name a few. His work can be found in countless museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, among others.


- scratches throughout frame; frayed ends of stretched cotton duck.


17.0" W x 13.0" H x 1.5" D

- measurement of frame; visible image measures approximately 15.75"W x 12"H.

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