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circles / chevrons / diamonds / stripes
shapes / papers / 80s chevrons / doors / flares
ONE OF THE THINGS painters strive for is an approach or method which contributes to pictorial unity. To some extent this frees the artist from some aspect of "composing" while giving him to focus on what he does best. This accounts for a portion at least of what we call an artist's style. When carried into format it becomes a rationale for series painting. In Noland's case this approach focuses on geometric formats. The format of a "chevron," "surfboard," or "flare" helps unify pictures yet can be repeated many times. This allows Noland to adjust colors and handling without fussing to compose the format.
Working in series was practiced by many American artists before Noland, but never so strictly or methodically. One has to go back to Monet in the 1890s for such a resolute approach to the series. But the approach seems more necessary and productive in Noland than in Monet. In his series which use repeated motifs -- haystacks, cathedral fronts, and poplars -- Monet didn't rise to the heights he'd reached in the 1870s and early '80s with more conventionally varied compositions. In comparison, Noland has found freedom in formats that on the surface seem rigidly preconceived.
Many of Noland's series have used symmetrical layouts. This is especially true of his paintings in the '60s. By virtue of their harmony, symmetry, simplicity, and measured generosity of scale Noland's paintings from the circles through the "stripes" have the traditional virtues of a classical style.