Colorfield painting is a variant of abstract art, that emerged in New York city during the 1950s and 1960s. It was pioneered by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Clyfford Still. It fulfils the artist's search for a modern mythic art, that expresses a yearning for transcendence and the infinite. To achieve this, the artist abandons all suggestions of figurations and exploits the expressive power of color by deploying it in large fields, that might envelope the view when seen in close quarters.
Color Field Painting A Form Of Abstract Art
Color Field painting is a form of the abstract depiction that fulfils the artist's search for a modern, mythic art that expresses a yearning for the infinite.
Hans Hoffmann The Gate 1959-1960
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Often, color field paintings are huge canvases. If you stand close to one, the colors seem to extend beyond your peripheral vision, like a huge waterbody, a lake, sea or an ocean. These mega sized paintings require letting your mind and eyes leap right into the expanse of the colors and feel the sensations of the red, blue or green.
In this art form, the figure and ground are one, the painters treat the surface of canvas or paper as a "field" of vision without a central focus, and the space of the picture spreads out beyond the canvas. The paintings do not refer to objects from the real world but reveal the artist's state of mind, his or her emotions, turmoil or expression.
It is more about the tension created by overlapping and interacting areas of color and shapes, which is the subject of the work. The bright local colors are presented in specific shapes, that can be amorphous or geometric, but not too straight-edged. The works emphasize on the flatness of canvas or paper.
The integration of shapes through overlapping or interpenetrations blurs special distinctions so that there is almost no sense of image versus the background. Sometimes, the shapes seem to both emerge and submerge into the surrounding colors.
The color field movement places emphasis on gesture, brushstrokes and action in favor of an overall consistency of form and process.
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Applications Of Color Field Painting
- Stain painting: In this form, the artists would mix and dilute their paint in buckets and coffee cans, making a flowy liquid, then pour it onto raw unprimed canvas, drawing shapes and areas, as they stained. The paint could also be brushed on, rolled on or thrown on, and would spread into the fabric of the canvas.
- Spray painting: This technique involved the use of a spray gun to create large expanses and fields of color, sprayed on across the canvas.
- Magna paint: Developed by Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden in 1947 and reformulated in 1960, this paint has pigments ground in an acrylic resin with alcohol based solvents. Magna is miscible with turpentine or mineral spirits and dries rapidly to a matte or glossy finish.