Bright composition by Kenneth Noland with circles in the center

Kenneth Noland

American, 1924-2010

Circle, 1958

Oil on canvas

93 ½ x 93 ½ inches



Throughout a six-decade career, Noland transformed the basic compositional devices of the circle, the chevron, and the stripe with his powerful, lyrical use of color. “I wanted color to be the origin of painting,” he said. “I wanted to make color the generating force.”

After serving in World War II, Noland took advantage of the GI Bill to attend the experimental Black Mountain College, studying with Ilya Bolotowsky, who introduced Noland to the work of such painters as Mondrian and Kandinsky. In 1948 he continue his studies in Paris, where became fascinated by the work of Matisse. Upon his return to the United States in 1949, Noland widened his sphere of influence to include artists Paul Klee, Helen Frankenthaler, David Smith, and Morris Louis. Influential critic Clement Greenberg championed Noland.

By the mid-1950s many of Noland’s compositions had begun to coalesce towards the center of the canvas. Working within a rigid compositional format, Noland’s color schemes developed in a progression of concentric images. With towering scale and a bold palette, Circle is an exquisite example of Noland’s early work and his breakthrough series of targets. Noland’s target paintings have been widely regarded as quintessential specimens of color field painting.

Bright composition by Kenneth Noland with circles in the center