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of raw canvas was now left between the wedge of chevrons and the bottom of the picture, with the result that Noland was able to combine the remarkable openness, optical space and perceptual intensity of his concentric-ring paintings with a much more explicitly deductive relation of image to framing-edge than he had ever before achieved. Moreover, the new relation between the two enabled Noland to dispense, at last, with lateral symmetry, in the realization that as long as the chevrons were suspended from the upper corners, the points of the chevrons could be moved literally anywhere within the picture - not only up from the bottom but off the central vertical axis as well. I hope it is clear just in what sense all this amounted to a formal advance of the first importance within modernist painting, to an exemplary act of radical criticism of his own best prior work, and to the attainment by Noland of a wholly new dimension of formal and expressive freedom for his art. What is much harder to understand is that within a relatively (though typically) short time Noland's hard-won freedom seems to have begun to pall on him : which is perhaps roughly equivalent to saying that Noland began to doubt whether this particular formal solution could continue to bear or embody or communicate the kind and degree of emotion which all painting, modernist or otherwise, must bear or embody or communicate if he is to care about it. More precisely, this feeling probably manifested itself as a desire to bring about relations among colors precluded by the asymmetrical chevron format. It is as if modernist painting is for Noland a language whose rules of syntax must constantly be transformed by its users - who are also its makers - in order for it to remain capable of making significant sense ; as if otherwise it becomes what its detractors often blindly and unjustly accuse it of being : mere decoration. Thus, after having executed no more than a few large-scale asymmetrical chevron paintings, Noland gave up the solution - one which a lesser painter would have spent a life-time repeating, if he could have made his way to it in the first place - because it was no longer true to his feelings, and began to make the remarkable diamond-shaped paintings, five of which may be seen in the present exhibition. I want to break off my discussion of Noland's work at this point, not in the belief that I have dealt adequately with it, but in the hope that perhaps enough of a formal context has been sketched in for the spectator to be able to come to grips on his own with the recent, and to my mind superb, diamond-shaped paintings just mentioned - works which provide a radical critique of the chevron paintings discussed above at the same time as they manifestly emerge from them. I am of course aware that my decision not to try to cope with Noland's color means that the accounts I have given of his development is seriously incomplete. But it does not imply that I believe structure to be more important than color in his work : it is more important structurally, but that is all. On the other hand, there is the obvious danger that, presented with work as coloristically exciting as Noland's, the spectator might fail to give the structure of his paintings the close scrutiny which it clearly deserves. What I have tried to do in this section is to follow Noland's development in regard to modernist pictorial structure alone : in the conviction that if a rigorous conceptual grasp of the transformations it has undergone could somehow be incorporated as a vital factor into the act of perception itself, one would be along way toward experiencing Noland's paintings in all their passion, eloquence and fragile power. Notes 1. Clement Greenberg, "Louis and Noland," Art International, IV/5 (May 25, 1960), 26-29. 2. For further discussion of modernism see my article "Modernist Painting and Formal Criticism," The American Scholar, Volume 33, Number 4 (Autumn, 1964), 642-648. 3. In conversation Noland has said that a painter today needs "smart instincts." 4. Pursuing it further largely means trying to recognize and come to grips with some of the implications for aesthetics contained in Wittgenstein's later philosophical writings, in particular the Philosophica Investigations. What seems to me an enormously useful and highly suggestive start on this job of work has been made by Stanley Cavell in an essay entitled "Aesthetic Problems of Modern Philosophy," to be published early this year by the English firm Allen and Unwin in Philosophy in America, a volume of essays by younger American philosophers edited by Max Black. 5. See Greenberg's article cited above, as well as Lawrence Alloway's "Notes on Morris Louis" in the Guggenheim Museum's catalogue to the memorial exhibition of paintings by Louis held there in 1963. 6. In conversation.
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