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Colour Field Painting

Jack Bush
Big A, acrylic on canvas, 1968

A type of abstract painting in which the whole picture consists of large expanses of more or less unmodulated colour, with no strong contrasts of tone or obvious focus of attention. Sometimes Colour Field Paintings use only one colour; others use several that are similar in tone and intensity. This type of painting developed in the USA in the late 1940s and early 1950s, leading pioneers including Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko.

It is thus an aspect of Abstract Expressionism (developing the Field Painting of Jackson Pollock), and it has also been seen as a type—or precursor—of Minimal art. Many of the leading American abstract  painters of the 1950s and 1960s were exponents of Colour Field Painting, among them Ellsworth Kelly and Jules Olitski.

From 1952 Helen Frankenthaler developed Colour Field Painting by soaking or staining diluted paint into unprimed canvas, so that the paint is integral with the surface rather than superimposed on it. The term Colour Stain Painting is applied to works of this type. Frankenthaler’s work was influential on many artists, including Morris Louis.

Source:
Chilvers, Ian and Glaves-Smith, John (2003) A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. OUP, pp. 413-414.

Bush, Big A, acrylic on canvas, 1968, Wikipedia

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