Openness and Clarity: Color Field Works 1960 – 1970s
Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present Openness and Clarity: Color Field Works 1960 – 1970s, curated by Hayden Dunbar. On view from June 7 through August 2, 2014, the show will include works by Josef Albers, Anthony Caro, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Morris Louis, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, David Smith, and Frank Stella.
Bringing together important Color Field works rarely exhibited in Los Angeles, this exhibition seeks to examine the pivotal role that Color Field painters and their direct predecessors played in the evolution of abstract art, while also proving the work's persisting ability to captivate the contemporary eye. The show's title references Clement Greenberg's catalog essay for his seminal 1964 exhibition, Post Painterly Abstraction, which championed a new group of artists that rejected painterliness in favor of an "openness and clarity" in color and contour. Organized for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the show introduced painters whose restrained arrangements of saturated color in vaporous soft-edged shapes and geometrical hard-edged forms were in reaction to the dense, gestural brushwork and raw emotion of the Abstract Expressionists. Erasing the distinction between object and ground, these paintings formed a cool-headed and fresh new visual language that de-emphasized line to underscore the perceptual effects of color: "What sets the best Color Field paintings apart is the extraordinary economy of means with which they manage not only to engage our feelings but also to ravish the eye." (Karen Wilkin, Color As Field: American Painting, 1950 – 1975, p. 17)
This exhibition includes a selection of works by Albers, Hofmann, and Smith, establishing a direct link between these artists' early emphasis on color, form, and stain techniques which preceded the lyrical, floating shapes and radiant hues that soon followed in works by Frankenthaler, Louis, and Noland. Noland's 1962 painting Bolton's Landing refers to Smith's studio and residence in upstate New York, underscoring the close friendships between these artists. Works by Frank Stella from his Protractor Variation and Irregular Polygon series exemplify the rigor and energy for which he became so well known. Including significant works by Caro, Frankenthaler, Louis, Motherwell, and Olitski, the exhibition pays tribute to the legacy of Color Field painting, a movement whose proponents paved the way for Minimalism, Conceptual, and Pop Art, creating an enduring shift in the course of art history that can still be seen today.