Kenneth Noland


Artist Kenneth Noland

Photo Credit: Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

Kenneth Noland was born in Ashville, North Carolina.  After serving in the Air Force during WWII, he returned to North Carolina to study art at Black Mountain College.  There he studied under geometric abstractionist, Josef Albers and was introduced to Bauhaus color theory.  This influenced his attraction to geometric form and vivid color that would distinguish his work.

In 1948, Noland traveled to Paris and began to exhibit his work.  He was exposed to Henri Matisse and how he used color.  This helped Kenneth Noland to develop what he called “color structure”.  When he returned to the United States, he worked in Washington D.C. as a teacher.  He met and befriended Artist Morris Lewis, who was teaching at Washington Workshop Center of the Arts.  They both adopted the “soak stain” technique of allowing thinned paint to soak into an unprimed canvas after meeting Helen Frankenthaler.  Seeing how she dripped paint to allow for a more automated gestural effect helped push their work in new directions.  In mid-50s, he was exhibiting in important shows in New York, including Clement Greenberg’s “Emerging Talent” show at Kootz Gallery in Manhattan in 1954.

In the 1960s, Kenneth Noland began creating oval color field paintings.  From there he added other shapes for which he would become known for, including circles (or targets as he called them), chevrons, stripes and he pioneered the use of shaped canvases. By the mid-60’s, he moved out of New York to a farm, formally owned by Robert Frost, in Vermont.  In 1977, he was given a retrospective show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Another solo exhibition was held there in 2010.  Kenneth Noland made a significant contribution to the American Modernist and Abstract art movement.  His work in numerous private and public collections throughout the world.