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KENNETH NOLAND'S EARLY "CIRCLES" were his breakthrough paintings. They announced his emergence as a major artist.
Although sometimes referred to as "targets" Noland's Circles are more like symbolic representations of solar systems: an orb at the center surrounded by color orbits. The resemblance is reinforced in some early Circles where the outside ring is a kind of effulgence. In those particular pictures, the images recall Gottlieb's Burst paintings, with the upper "disk" image superimposed on the lower "burst".
Graphic suggestion, especially in the form of painterly "effulgences" is common in the earlier works. However, as Noland's color vocabulary grew, the painterly graphic element was replaced by color. A kind of "pulse" was created among the color "orbits" in relation to the square picture format. The relation of image to format became a constant preoccupation in Noland's subsequent work.
The development of the series was continuous, but might be broken into three phases:
1958-60: consolidation and exploration
1960-63: refinement and development
For more complete information on the Circle paintings, see: William C. Agee, Kenneth Noland, The Circle Paintings, 1956-63, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1993
also, "Appreciating Noland" on this website.
I've represented the reproductions in virtual frames against a virtual wall for the following reasons:
Real paintings are pictures that insist on "presence," something that unbounded reproduction doesn't provide. Paintings declare themselves in real space against walls. I've tried to create the illusion of that. I beieve that it gives a more accurate impression of the presence of the original. The frame also enables the whites and very light colours to separate from their surroundings usually a light background.