ALTHOUGH VASTLY DIFFERENT from
his early "Chevrons," to some eyes the "Eighties
Chevrons" of 1983-87 looked retrograde, yet they were no
more retrograde than the contemporary "Papers." They
differed in format from the '60s "Chevrons": in layout
the new chevron image tended to be steeper sided, having a more
acute point. The picture rectangle was usually more vertical than
square, more panel than window.
But their import went beyond that. The "Eighties Chevrons" represented Noland's first venture into overlaid color since the "Plaids", but assisted now by acrylic gel. They'd learned something about color overlays from the monotype "Papers, "where the treatment of color in and on surface dominated. They were painted in more than one layer, often on a dark ground. Repeated bands and zones no longer consisted of single, relatively flat colors. Thickened and thinned paint was applied in complex overlays. An applied, chattering counterpoint of translucent gel over colored underpainting unique to Noland -- wove the bands together with a brittle complexity. In these paintings, Noland made explicit a mastery of application and touch that had previously been implicit. Applied drawing offset and overrode geometry. Application sang obbligato to underpainting and layout.
The '80s "Chevrons" took color into areas that would
have been inconceivable in the '60s and brought with it new problems.
Because the color in the '60s "Chevrons" had been stained
into the canvas itself, the image tended not to detach from the
ground. In the "Eighties Chevrons", thick paint application
led to a potential separation of figure and ground. This was often
resolved by overpainting the surrounding ground.