Kenneth Noland is dead

“And Half,” 1959

“Back and Front,” 1960
“Play,” 1960
“Epigram,” 1961
“Galore,” 1966
“Interlock Color,” 1973
“Verdancy,” 1981
“Refresh,” 1999

Roberta Smith blogs at Arts Beat that Kenneth Noland, who painted some of the great emblems of the postwar American abstract style called Color Field painting, died Tuesday at his home in Port Clyde, Maine. The cause was cancer, said his wife, Paige Rense, editor in chief of Architectural Digest. He was 85. “Born in Asheville, N.C., in 1924, he studied art at the adventurous, short-lived Black Mountain College (conveniently located just outside his hometown) from 1946 to 1948, was inspired by the stain-painting technique that Helen Frankenthaler deducted from Jackson Pollock�s drips, and had his first exhibition in New York in 1957, at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery.

“Mr. Noland�s signature motif was a radiant target made of rings of pure color strained directly on raw canvas, with that canvas contributing a wonderful sense of breathing room between each band of color. The power of the colors, their often discordant interaction and the expanding and contracting rhythms of the bands of paint and the raw canvas, could be stunningly direct and vibrant. Mr. Noland�s work was championed by Clement Greenberg and other formalist art critics, but in the beginning it was also greatly admired by more wide-ranging critics, including Donald Judd.”

Biographical information from William Grimes’s obituary in the NY Times:  In 1950 Noland married Cornelia Langer, a former student of the sculptor David Smith. The marriage ended in divorce, as did his second marriage, to Stephanie Gordon. In addition to Ms. Rense, he is survived by two sons, artist William Noland of Durham, N.C., and Samuel Jesse Noland of Barnstable, Mass.; two daughters, Cady Noland and Emmy-award winning camera operator Lyn Noland both of Manhattan; a brother, Neil, also of Manhattan; and a grandchild.

Although Grimes doesn’t mention it in the obit, around 1944 Noland married (and divorced) Billie Ruth Sinclair, grandmother of Michael Fallon, who blogs at The Chronicle of Artistic Failure

In this 1977 video, Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel interviews Noland and Diane Waldman, the curator of his 1977 retrospective at the Guggenheim. The exhibit traveled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (jointly), October 1-November 27, 1977, and the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio, January-February 26, 1978.  (via the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Video Archive in the Duke University Libraries.)

Images above courtesy the artist’s web site.


  1. Jonathan Forrest

    FYI Terry Fenton has a great site on Noland here: http://www.sharecom.ca/noland/

  2. Nice website ..R.I.P. Kenneth Noland

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