Washington color painters washington color school

DEFINITION

Although having much variety of style and theme, it was a group of artists in the 1960s whose commonalities were residence in Washington DC, working together at the Washington Workshop, and exploring de-personalized optical color pattern effects through acrylics that could be applied directly to un-sized, unprimed canvas. WCP painters were Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Paul Reed, Thomas Downing and Howard Mehring, and they were first identified as a group in their single exhibition together, which was at the Washington DC Gallery of Modern Art in 1965. Louis and Noland were the first ones to experiment with acrylics, having seen acrylic paintings by Helen Frankenthaler in 1952 where she had poured paint onto canvas. Morris Louis thinned acrylics and played with the effects of pouring it onto canvas and then tilting the canvas to let the paint flow in a variety of directions and create overlapping areas and contrasting bare spots. Kenneth Noland did hard-edged, repetitive patterns such as chevrons, and Gene Davis did thin vertical stripes. In 2007, "Color School Remix" exhibitions were held in several museums in DC to re-visit the paintings of Washington Color Painters. Sources: "Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth Century Art"; J.W. Mahoney, 'To a Different Drum', "Art in America", May 2008, p. 95

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