THE PROBLEM OF figure and ground was resolved brilliantly in the "Doors" of 1987 through '89, Noland's next series. In these painted constructions, Noland's characteristic bands and stripes were replaced by canvas stretched over narrow door panels. Paint application was carried forward from the "Eighties Chevrons": complex applications of clear, glass-like gels -- often containing pearlescent, metallic, or interference pigments -- scraped and slid across colored underpainting. Groups of painted panels were assembled side by side, often interspersed and surrounded by colored plastic strips to make a constructed picture, one that could seldom be traditionally framed.*
Because of their obvious construction, the "Doors" were immediate and physical in a way that superceded Noland's previous flatness. Although their final configuration was often close to a traditional square, the total effect acquired a new and more emphatic immediacy by the literal character of the individual panels. In comparison, Noland's radical "Stripes" of the late '60s, and even his "Shapes" and "Surfboards," seem illusionistic. Yet for all their immediacy, the "Doors" were not reliefs or sculptures. They were a new kind of picture, one which gleamed against the wall.
* Some of the "doors" have had plexiglass interleavings removed and have been traditionally framed.