Kenneth Noland was an Abstract Expressionist painter, who became a leader of Color Field Painting, particularly with the Washington Color School. From 1958 through the 1970’s, Noland developed his canonical style of minimalist artworks composed of vividly colored geometric shapes stained into the canvas. Target paintings led to Chevron paintings, which led to Stripe paintings, and later Plaid paintings. These paintings were exceptionally balanced and symmetrical. By the mid 1970’s, Noland began to experiment with asymmetrically shaped canvases, a movement that Noland pioneered and would become a central concern of his work. Second is one such canvas. Thin stripes of muted blue and gray mark the edges of the color-stained canvas, an asymmetrical six-sided polygon.
“…It took the experience of working with radical kinds of symmetry, not just a rectangle, but a diamond shape, as well as extreme extensions of shapes, before I finally came to the idea of everything being unbalanced, nothing vertical, nothing horizontal, nothing parallel. I came to the fact that unbalancing has its own order. In a peculiar way it can still end up feeling symmetrical.”
To remove any hint of gesture, Noland stained his canvases by applying thinned paint to an unprimed canvas. This neutralized every painterly element except color, which became the “generating force.”