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Palo Alto

Kenneth Noland

Flares

On View
Jan 19–Feb 27, 2021

Regarded as one of the foremost American Color Field painters, Kenneth Noland began making his Flare series in California in the early 1990s and the works have rarely been presented together since then.

Exhibition Details

Kenneth Noland
Flares
Jan 19 – Feb 27, 2021

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Gallery

229 Hamilton Avenue
Palo Alto

Above: Kenneth Noland, Flares: Storm Grey, 1991/1995, acrylic on canvas on panel with Plexiglas, 62" × 23-3/4" × 2" (157.5 cm × 60.3 cm × 5.1 cm) © The Kenneth Noland Foundation

Pace Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition spotlighting Kenneth Noland’s Flare series. Regarded as one of the foremost American Color Field painters, Noland began making his Flare series in California in the early 1990s and the works have rarely been presented together since then. Of approximately 15 works featured in the exhibition, a number were conceived and largely produced while Noland spent time in Santa Barbara, where he was continuously inspired by nature and the changing light and colors of the West Coast landscape that surrounded him. On view from January 19 through February 27, 2021, Kenneth Noland: Flares marks the first time that the Flare series has been exhibited as a group in California, as well as Pace’s first presentation dedicated to the artist’s work at the gallery’s location in Palo Alto.

Untitled

Kenneth Noland, Flares: Rise and Fall, 1991, acrylic on canvas on panel with Plexiglas 47-1/8" × 84-1/8" × 2" (119.7 cm × 213.7 cm × 5.1 cm) © The Kenneth Noland Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In the late 1950s, Noland broke with Abstract Expressionism’s gestural aesthetic, becoming one of the pioneers of Color Field painting and the Washington Color School. During this time he began staining unprimed canvas first with Magna and then acrylic paint and producing paintings with stark geometric shapes and bold color contrasts. Innovative series, such as his Circle or Chevron works, were systematic yet intuitive investigations of painting’s visual elements, especially color and shape. Eminent critics and artists soon lauded Noland’s work, noting his role as a primary force in the development of abstract art. Donald Judd affirmed in 1965: “by now Kenneth Noland’s salience isn’t debatable; he’s one of the best painters.”

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Kenneth Noland, Flares: A Secret, 1990, acrylic on canvas on panel with Plexiglas, 27-1/2" × 39-3/4" × 2" (69.9 cm × 101 cm × 5.1 cm) © The Kenneth Noland Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Noland’s command over his medium only grew in the following decades. The artist used color as density and weight, covering entire canvases—which were often shaped irregularly—in order to imbue as much color as possible into any given work. The Flares represent a new direction in Noland’s work, while concurrently encapsulating experiences and concerns that had motivated the artist for decades. In this manner, the Flare series engages viewers in a nuanced visual experience—a journey into the artist’s reconfiguration of painting.

One of the Flares’ chief innovations is their use of colorful plexiglass strips. Wedged between the irregularly shaped panels of each work, these glossy bands activate a complex interplay among color, materiality, and form. To Noland, the Flares were “constructed pictures” with “separate component parts.” This assembled nature relates them to both collage and sculpture, generating new possibilities. Noland further enhanced the objecthood of the Flares by applying paint or plexiglass to the sides in colors that do not match their frontal surfaces, emphasizing volume and mass. The three dimensionality of these paintings distinguishes them among Noland’s broader body of work while also hinting at the artist’s lesser known but seriously pursued sculptural practice.

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Kenneth Noland

Kenneth Noland was a primary force in the development of postwar abstract art and color field painting. He attended Black Mountain College in the late forties, exhibiting an early interest in the emotional effects of color and geometric forms. His commitment to line and color can be traced throughout his prolific oeuvre, including his Circle paintings and extending through a visual language of chevrons, diamonds, horizontal bands, plaid patterns, and shaped canvases. 

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Palo Alto — Kenneth Noland, Flares, Jan 19–Feb 27, 2021