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THE CHEVRONS WERE Noland's second substantial series after the centered pictures. Prior too their advent, Noland had experimented with a number of symmetrical formats.
Usually the Symmetrical Chevrons (1962-63) consist of evenly spaced chevrons descending from the top edge of a squarish rectangular picture. The point of the lowest chevron sometimes touches, sometimes hovers above or descends below the picture's lower edge. In the most typical chevrons the bottom edge of the motif intersects the upper corners of the picture rectangle making it interact dynamically with the picture shape.
The "chevrons" replace the quadrilateral symmetry of the centered images with bilateral symmetry, in effect by making the implied center of the chevron image coincide with the center of the top edge of the painting. They gain enormously in directional energy by this format which is the inverse of the stable pyramid of High Renaissance art.
This powerful sense of direction implicit in the chevron image gives a new and more measured order to color, creating its own patterns and repetitions. Color clusters into families or steps across large sections of the spectrum, raising expectations but satisfying with the unexpected.
The asymmetrical Chevrons (1964) seize upon the tendency of many symmetrical chevron motifs to align their lower edge with the upper corners of the picture rectangle. Shifting the point of the motif off center wrenches the picture away from symmetry and stability, giving an unstable unity.
In a sense the "asymmetrical chevrons" were inevitable, but their asymmetry brought problems. The bands on the long side tend to be wider than those on the short side, compounding instability. While the asymmetrical "chevrons" gain in drama, because the format is so aggressively unstable drawing encroaches upon color threatening to overwhelm it.
Although this presented dangers, it suggested a new interaction between picture shape and layout which was taken up in the "diamonds" and more radically in the '70s "shapes." Since that time Noland's art has alternated between classical symmetry and formats which threaten to undermine it.