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Color Field Painting

Page history last edited by spencer.myers@... 13 years, 2 months ago

Color Field Painting

The Color Field painters had a more subtle approach to their artwork than the Action painters. According to a webs source, “Evolving slightly later than action - painting was a second style of Abstract Expressionism, which became known as Colour Field Painting. It emerged as several important artists in America in the late 1940s and 1950s were experimenting with the use of flat areas or fields of colour to induce contemplation in the viewer – even to a pitch of mystic intensity” (Visual-Arts-Cork). The Color Field Paintings were minimal, colorful and flat pieces of art that were aimed to evoke emotion in the viewer. The web source goes on to state, “The impulse behind Colour Field painting was reflective and cerebral, characterized by simple pictorial imagery designed to create emotional impact. Rothko and Newman, among others, described their desire to achieve the ‘sublime” rather than the “beautiful.” A type of highly coloured minimalism, their style (according to Newman) aimed to liberate the artist from “all constraints of memory, association, nostalgia, legend and myth that have been the devices of Western Europe painting” (Visual-Arts-Cork). Unlike the Action painters the Color Field painters expressed themselves by emphasizing color and shapes.


The artist Mark Rothko was the most famous among the Color Field painters. According to Visual-Arts-Cork, “The most distinguished of these colour field painters was Mark Rothko. He has been described, along with Clyfford Still as the chief exponent of the “American Sublime.” (Visual-Arts-Cork). The web source goes on to state, “Rothko’s paintings typically comprise two or three horizontal or vertical rectangles of different colours, varying in width or in height, on an even coloured background. The rectangles are filled with colour, which is washed or stained with shifting tones and luminous intensities, and their edged blue into soft focus. The blurring effect makes the colour seem to float. So powerful and intense is the impression of mysterious radiance flooding from these great canvases, that the viewers themselves can also experience a floating sensation” (Visual-Arts-Cork). The Action painters and Color Field painters both wanted to evoke an emotion through their art but had different methods of accomplishing it. The Color Field painters wanted to evoke emotion through subtlety and color, while the Action painters wanted to express emotion through movement and action.

Number 10, 1950 Art Print Mark Rothko: Number 10, 1950



1955, By. "Abstract Expressionism, History, Styles: Action-Painting, Colour Field: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko." Irish Art | Encyclopedia of Visual Arts in Ireland | History of Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking: Artists, Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions. Web. 26 Nov. 2010. <http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/abstract-expressionism.htm>.

Name, By Last. "Number 10, 1950 Print by Mark Rothko at Art.com." Art.com - Posters, Art Prints, and Framed Art Leader. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.art.com/products/p10215906-sa-i1148952/mark-rothko-number-10-1950.htm>.

"YouTube - Barnett Newman I." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mliNI8Hgoac&feature=player_embedded>.




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