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Stripes and Color Theory

Stripes in paintings has captured the interest of quite a number of 20th and 21st century artists – Matisse, Kenneth Noland, Bridget Riley, Gene Davis, Frank Stella, Wade Guyton, Sean Scully and Morris Louis, the list goes on.
With inexhaustible themes, styles and techniques to work with, stripes continue to interest artists to this day.   I can tell you that the Color School was an offshoot of color field abstraction painting that was primarily situated in NYC.  DC differed in a way, in that it dealt with a more optical way of painting, where the color and shapes vibrate and move around optically so that the painting is in constant motion.  To me this was the main difference from the static painting from the NY School.
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Josef Albers, Hommage au Carré – 1965
I studied color theory at the Pratt Institute with Joseph Albers‘ main assistant for many years – Irving Rubins (I lost track of Rubins over the years).  My aim back then was to develop my own own unique color theory based on Albers’ principles.  (If my memory serves me right, Albers was also a major influence on Rauschenberg.)

My own introduction to the world of stripes was in 1969, when I painted all 50 Popsicle paintings for Gene DavisGiveaway.

After the event, I painted one more for a collector.

Gene’s color theory was based on intuition.  When I discussed this with him, point-blank, he shrugged. My take on color theory was to go for a conceptual approach. I was trying to move into the 21st century (or so I convinced myself).  This helped me distance myself from the theories of the other stripe painters who were stuck in Clement Greenberg’s formalist theory of painting as far as I could tell.

NOTE: The painting at the top of the page is a recent one – Full Moon Lodge (2017) 24 x 48, acrylic on canvas

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