Glory of the World: Color Field Painting (1950s to 1983)
November 21, 2023 through June 30, 2024
This exhibition explores a tendency in mid-twentieth-century American abstract painting in which vast areas of color appear as the dominating force. Although this type of painting was prefigured in the work of previous generations of abstract painters, such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, it is identified with artists including Frank Bowling, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons. Frank Stella and Alma Thomas, among others. Color Field painting was but one of several art movements that emerged in America during the early 1960s, including Pop Art, Minimalism, Op Art, Photorealism, hard-edge abstraction, and the Black Arts Movement, to name a few. Although critics tended to categorize the Color Field artists based solely on their shared formal characteristics, each artist approached their process from a distinct perspective, while maintaining an awareness of each other’s innovations.
The exhibition’s title Glory of the World, takes its cue from Frank Stella’s writings on Hans Hofmann’s abstract painting Gloriamundi (1963): “Hofmann proved that the straightforward manipulation of pigment can create exalted art…Glory of the world this painting surely is, and glory of the world his painting surely was and is.” Like Hofmann, the monumental Color Field paintings in this exhibition arouse a sense of wonder and discovery.
Curated by Bonnie Clearwater, Director and Chief Curator, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, the selection of paintings focuses primarily on the earlier years of Color Field beginning in the 1950s with Frankenthaler’s large stain paintings and ends 1983 when post-modern and imagist painters began to dominate the art scene. In recent years, another young generation of artists has rediscovered Color Field painting, which makes this exhibition especially timely. The exhibition will be augmented with a hard-cover, full-color book published by Skira.
Installation images by Steven Brooke.