Blast from the Past: Art of the 1960s

Exhibit Preview
Pop Art
Abstract Expressionism
Figurative Expressionism
Color Field Painting
Geometric Abstraction
Op Art

Color Field Painting

Theodoros Stamos Kenneth Noland
 Theodoros Stamos (American, 1922-1997)
Low Sun, Black Bar II, 1963
Oil on canvas, 68 x 44 1/8 inches
MSU purchase, 64.11
Kenneth Noland
(American, born 1924)
Bell, 1959
Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 feet
Gift of the artist, 67.2

Some forms of 1960s abstraction lasted for years. Color Field painting was dominant and lasted well into the 1970s. Large scale, clean, bright, and beautiful color, the paint soaked into the bare flat canvas, either pooled and spread (Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland) or poured down over its surface (Morris Louis, Jules Olitski, Paul Jenkins). Later it was sprayed on with the result that the paintings were angst-free and highly appealing. Hedonistic, they were art about art, even though some were called targets, or veils, or chevrons, florals, or unfurleds. Large expanses of color or of raw canvas between the colors fostered the optical power of the color, which was what the paintings were about. They had no content outside of the fact of their being. They told no stories and while the colors related to each other, the canvas was not balanced nor structured by planes of color as in a Mondrian, nor in the Geometrical Abstractions being created during the same years.

Kresge Art Museum | Michigan State University