Kenneth Noland was an American abstract painter. His works can be seen in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among others. His minimalist and abstract paintings played with the relationship between shape and color and started a new wave of expressionism. He didn’t just start painting by accident; he took classes and worked with some of the most famous artists of the time. Most of his paintings had shapes like circles, squares, chevrons, stripes, and other shapes. With these four themes, he made a lot of different kinds of art that used many different colors. He liked both symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes, which he used in a beautiful way. He wanted to fill the canvas with color, not make it less vivid with brushstrokes. He always thought that art was about the art and never about the artist. Throughout his life, he taught many young artists and passed on the knowledge he had gained. He helped start the movement called “Washington Color School.” He worked on art his whole life, and he spent his last days in his studio. His children grew up to be artists themselves and continue to share his colorful work.
Childhood and Adolescence
Kenneth Clifton Noland was born in Asheville, North Carolina, on April 10, 1924. Harry Caswell Noland, a pathologist, and his mother, Bessie Noland, were his parents.
David, Bill, Neil, and Harry Jr. were his five siblings. His father, he said, was an amateur painter who instilled in him a passion for the arts and painting.
He graduated from high school in 1942 and went on to Black Mountain College in his hometown for two years. He studied color theory, negative space contrasts, and geometric abstraction at Black Mountain.
He went to Paris in 1948 to study under Russian sculptor Ossip Zadkine. Later, he would struggle against cubist doctrines that emphasized simplicity and form.
Kenneth Noland’s Career
In 1949, he had the first one-person exhibition of his paintings in France, at the Galerie Raymond Cruze, under the direction of Zadkine.
Noland started out as a teacher. He came to America after his study in Paris and began teaching fine arts at the “Institute of Contemporary Art” in Washington, DC. From 1949 to 1951, he taught there for three years.
He met artist Helen Frankenthaler and critic Clement Greenberg in the summer of 1950. They would both become his staunchest supporters. This encounter was pivotal in his career because it aided in the development of his artistic style.
After meeting Helen Frankenthaler, he was able to incorporate her “soak-stain” techniques into his own paintings. He met Morris Louis, another artist in his league, while at the Washington Workshop Center for the Arts in DC.
He taught at the “Catholic University” in Washington, DC, from 1951 until 1960. From 1952 to 1956, he also taught at the “Washington Workshop Center for the Arts.”
He started producing concentrated circular motifs that sharpened with each fresh brushstroke by the late 1950s. There wasn’t much difference in terms of shape, but the vibrant colors drew a lot of attention. The staining technique kept the colors abstract and simply optical, contributing to the works’ mystique and interest.
He made his art in batches. He experimented with colors while keeping the concept the same. In 1961, he moved to New York City with his art and skill.
In 1962, he switched from targets to chevrons. He made dramatic pieces that were presented at the Venice Biennale in 1964, keeping the spirit of his work the same but changing the subjects. He and Louis, along with other painters, became known as the “Washington Color Painters” in this period, and he was listed among the post-painterly abstractionists.
He was honored with a retrospective at the Jewish Museum in 1965. He invented the shaped canvas and used it in several of his paintings. These shaped canvases contributed to the creation of a sophisticated and complicated series of artwork.
He developed the “Stripes” series, which included rectangular canvases and chevron motifs, between 1967 and 1970. This contained parallel lines of varying lengths and colors that covered the entire canvas.
“Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective,” his first major exhibition, was held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1977. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Toledo Museum of Art all hosted this exhibition. In addition, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In the 1980s, he experimented with plaids and more chevrons, using thicker paint. In 1985, he was named the Milton Avery Professor of Art at Bard College. Since then, he has served on the Bennington College Board of Trustees.
“Kenneth Noland at Leo Castelli” was a 35-year retrospective of his work held in New York. It includes everything from his 1960s target paintings through his 1990s “Flare” and “Flow” series.
He taught until 1997 when he resigned, and subsequently focused on his paintings, which were a magnificent combination of color and shape.
He began working on his “Mysteries” series of paintings in 1999. It was reminiscent of his early days as a formalist abstractionist. He returned to painting symmetrical targets in bright colors, reinforcing their modernist relevance.
His Major Projects
One of his earlier paintings, “Beginning” (1958), featured a bull’s eye utilizing an unusual color combination. He believed that each item should focus on the art rather than the artist. During this time, he made a series of paintings that looked like targets.
Many geometric abstracts, such as “Baba Yagga” (1964) and “Galore,” were created by him (1966).
Achievements and Awards
He received the “North Carolina Award” in Fine Arts in 1995, which is North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.
In 1997, Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina gave him an honorary “Doctor of Fine Arts” degree.
Personal History and Legacy
Kenneth Noland married four times throughout his life. His first wife was the daughter of Senator William Langer of the United States. Cady, Lyndon, and William were the couple’s three children. Soon after, they divorced.
In the 1960s, he had an affair with the artist and socialite Mary Pinchot Meyer.
He married Stephanie Gordon, a psychologist, in April 1967. Before married, he and Stephanie lived together for three years. Three years later, in June 1970, they divorced.
In 1970, he married Peggy L. Schiffer, an art historian. Samuel Jesse was born to them as a couple.
On April 10, 1994, he married Paige Rense, an editor.
He died on January 5, 2010, at the age of 85, in Maine, USA. Kidney cancer was the cause of death.
Estimated Net worth
Kenneth is one of the wealthiest Painters and is on the list of the most well-known Painter. Based on what we found on Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider, Kenneth Noland has a net worth of about $1.9 million.
Michael Fallon, a writer, and artist claimed that his grandmother, Billie Ruth Sinclair, was married to Noland. This has yet to be established.
His children have inherited his talent and turned it into a career. Cady is an installation artist and sculptor, as are Lyndon and William. Lyndon is also a camerawoman, and William is a photographer and visual arts professor at Duke University.