Wash­ing­ton Color

D.wigmore ex­plores Paul Reed’s color and trans­parency work from 1962 to 1967

American Fine Art Magazine - - Gallery Preview: New York, Ny - By Emily Lenz, di­rec­tor, D.wigmore Fine Art, Inc.

152 W. 57th Street, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10019 t: (212) 581-1657 www.dwig­more.com

Paul Reed is one of the six orig­i­nal mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton Color School, which be­gan with Mor­ris Louis (1912-1962) and Ken­neth Noland (1924-2010) and grew to in­clude Paul Reed (1919-2015), Gene Davis (19201985),Thomas Down­ing (1928-1985), and Howard Mehring (1931-1978).

The artists were de­fined as a school by the 1965 land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion Wash­ing­ton Color Pain­ters, cu­rated by Ger­ald Nord­land at the Wash­ing­ton Gallery of Modern Art.these D.c.-based artists used re­cently de­vel­oped acrylic paints di­rectly on un­primed can­vas, embed­ding or stain­ing the color into the paint­ing sur­face, to cre­ate a new sense of color. Jux­ta­posed against the raw can­vas, the glow­ing matte color ap­pears to float off the paint­ing.the artists ex­per­i­mented with pour­ing, spong­ing, rolling, and blot­ting to see how color cre­ates move­ment and depth.while some worked in­tu­itively and oth­ers mapped out their com­po­si­tions, Ger­ald Nor­land in his ex­hi­bi­tion text noted there were no ac­ci­dents with the Wash­ing­ton Color pain­ters—even in Louis’s flow­ing Veils there was or­der and grav­ity. Our ex­hi­bi­tion of Paul Reed’s work from 1962 to 1967 shows his ex­plo­ration of color and trans­parency to achieve move­ment in evolv­ing se­ries: first with biomor­phic shapes in cir­cu­lar mo­tion (1962-1964), then in geo­met­ric struc­tures (1964-1965) that crys­tal­lize into grids (1966), which then twist and stretch into shaped can­vases (1966-1967). At the time of the 1965 Wash­ing­ton Color Pain­ters ex­hi­bi­tion, Mor­ris Louis had passed away and Ger­ald Nord­land said Reed was “the only painter who con­tin­ues to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­i­ties of trans­parency which were set out orig­i­nally by Mor­ris Louis.” Like Louis, Reed worked in an ex­per­i­men­tal ap­proach through se­ries to in­ves­ti­gate the prop­er­ties of color through lay­er­ing of paint, which re­quired great skill in han­dling.the pro­gres­sion in Reed’s com­po­si­tions is ev­i­dent in a di­a­gram of thumb­nail sketches show­ing his se­ries from 1962 to 1971.The ear­li­est works rely on biomor­phic shapes to pro­vide move­ment (such as #12, 1962).The forms are then sim­pli­fied to large geo­met­ric shapes to ex­plore trans­parency and color (such as Disk Paint­ing #29, 1965). In 1966 Reed moves to grids and bands as a neu­tral form to hold color (such as In­ter­sec­tion XII, 1966) and em­pha­size the in­ter­ac­tion of over­lapped colors.

The va­ri­ety within Reed’s se­ries is unique among the Wash­ing­ton Color School.thomas Down­ing was the next most var­ied. In Reed’s 1994 oral his­tory for the Archives of Amer­i­can Art, he de­scribes his process with each se­ries in three steps. First, he draws shapes un­til he set­tles on a form that will hold his en­vi­sioned color ex­er­cise. Sec­ond, he works in col­lage and col­ored tis­sue pa­per to see how the color and trans­parency might work. Third, he ap­plies the form to can­vas, now in­tu­itively see­ing where he can take the color. Once he has achieved the most com­plex and so­phis­ti­cated colors for that form, the se­ries is over. Reed said all his ideas were built on lessons learned from pre­vi­ous forms. With color in­ter­ac­tion per­form­ing

D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.

Paul Reed (1919-2015), Topeka XVIII, 1967. Acrylic on can­vas, 60 x 32 in., ti­tled, signed and dated verso.

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