Exemplified in the work of Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stella, the paintings featured in this exhibition constitute one of the crowning achievements of postwar American abstract art.
Color field painting, which emerged in the United States during the 1950s, is characterized by pouring, staining, or spraying thinned paint onto raw canvas to create vast chromatic expanses that are remarkable for their luminosity and gracefulness. Paintings such as Helen Frankenthaler’s Flood (1967) exemplify these artists’ interest in exploring the emotional associations triggered by pure color relationships. Frankenthaler’s work, along with paintings by Mark Rothko, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, and Frank Stella constitute one of the crowning achievements of postwar American abstract art.
Surprisingly, there had not been a major exhibition that examined the sources, meaning, and impact of color field painting. Encompassing forty-one large-scale canvases, Color as Field presented a rare opportunity for viewers to fully comprehend the aims of these artists, view their finest works in close relationship to one another, and experience the beauty and sensuality of their pictorial handling of space and color.
Color as Field: American Painting, 1950–1975 was organized by the American Federation of Arts. The exhibition was made possible, in part, by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.