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Color Field Painter Kenneth Noland Dies

The brilliant colors of painter Kenneth Noland’s concentric shapes and stripes dimmed Tuesday when the founding Color Field artist died in Maine. Noland, who was 85, lost his battle with cancer after an expansive career that began in the immediate aftermath of Abstract Expressionism. He used that as the foundation for his postwar style known as Color Field, in which he stained canvas with vibrant washes of color into circles, chevrons, stripes, and diamonds. “He was one of the great colorists of the 20th century,” art critic Karen Wilkin said. “He picked up where Matisse left off and moved painting into a new visual language.” Noland first picked up a paintbrush after a visit to the National Gallery in Washington at 14, which left him particularly fascinated with Monet. But it was Matisse who greatly affected the chromatic master’s ideas about art, prompting him to develop “color structure.” Despite the art world’s return to less abstract art, Noland stuck by his staining and free-form shapes on large, sometimes oddly shaped canvases, knowing, like the circles he often painted, “young artists will return” to the form he established.