Color field painting
Color field painting (from the English color field) is an abstract painting style that arose in New York City in the 1940-1950s. She was inspired by European modernism and was closely associated with abstract expressionism, while many of her early supporters were among the pioneers of abstract expressionism. The color field painting is characterized primarily by large fields of a flat, monolithic color, smeared or stained on the canvas, creating a continuous surface area and a flat plan of the picture. The movement pays less attention to gestures, strokes and action in favor of a general conformity of form and process.
During the late 1950s and 1960s, color-field artists appeared in the UK, Canada, Washington, DC, and the US West Coast using stripes, targets, simple geometric shapes, and hints of landscape imagery and nature.
The focus of attention in world contemporary art began to shift from Paris to New York after the Second World War and the development of American abstract expressionism. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Clement Greenberg was the first art critic to propose and identify a dichotomy between differing trends within the canon of abstract expressionism. In a dispute with Harold Rosenberg, another important proponent of abstract expressionism, who outlined the virtues of painting action in his famous article, American Action Painters, published in an issue of ARTnews magazine in December 1952, Greenberg noticed another trend in the direction of solid color, or a color field (Color Field), in the works of some artists from the so-called “first generation” of abstract expressionists.
Mark Rothko was one of the artists whom Greenberg called the color field artists represented by magenta, black, green and orange, although Rothko himself refused to assign him any labels. For Rothko, color was “just a tool.” In a sense, his most famous works – “multiforms” and his other key works – are, in essence, the same expression, although more pure (or less specific or definable, depending on your interpretation), the means inherent in those the same “basic human emotions” as his early surrealistic paintings. Common among these stylistic innovations was an interest in “tragedy, ecstasy and doom.” By 1958, any spiritual expression that Rothko wanted to display on the canvas was getting darker. Its bright red, yellow and orange colors of the early 1950s elusively transformed into dark blue, green, gray and black. His final series of paintings of the mid-1960s were gray, black with white edges, seemingly abstract landscapes of an endless dull, tundra-shaped unknown country.
Another artist whose best work relates to both abstract expressionism and color field painting is Robert Motherwell. Motherwell’s abstract expressionism style is characterized by spacious open fields of painted surfaces in combination with freely drawn lines and shapes and was formed under the influence of Joan Miro and Henri Matisse. Robert Motherwell’s painting “Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110” (1971) is a pioneer in both styles at once – abstract expressionism and color field painting. It includes both trends, while the “Open Series” of the Motherwell of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s strictly place it within the framework of the color field painting. In 1970, Motherwell said: “Throughout my life, the painter of the 20th century, whom I adored the most, was Matisse.” Referring to some of his series of paintings that reflect the influence of Matisse, it should be noted “Open Series”, which are closest to classical painting of the color field.