New York - Mitchell-Innes & Nash is pleased to present an exhibition in the Chelsea space of mid-century works by Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella. The exhibition will comprise a focused selection of large-scale paintings by these artists from the late-50s to the early-70s, covering the first wave of stained canvas techniques that would come to be referred to as “Color Field.” While these four artists developed distinctive styles, this exhibition captures a span of time when their diverse explorations in painting converged around ideas of a flat picture-plane saturated with pure color which, as Michael Fried wrote in 1965, “addresses itself to eyesight alone.”
The exhibition is conceived around two pivotal moments in Post-War abstraction: the first is Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland's 1953 studio visit with Helen Frankenthaler. The meeting of the three artists became a catalyst for each to create their best-known work. The second touchstone is Michael Fried's 1965 exhibition Three American Painters at Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum, in which he included Noland and Stella.
In his essay for that show, Fried describes Louis's paintings as “projected,” as if the color is an image which floats, rather than is painted, on the canvas. The Mitchell-Innes & Nash exhibition poses that this idea, and others explored in Color Field painting, are critically relevant to developments in contemporary art: the notion of a painting rooted in process and material rather than gesture and reference.
This exhibition is organized with the support of and contributions from the Estate of Helen Frankenthaler, the Kenneth Noland Trust, Frank Stella and private lenders.