Kenneth Noland (1924-2010)
Kenneth Noland (1924-2010)

Stellar Wise

Kenneth Noland (1924-2010)
Stellar Wise
signed and dated '1969 Kenneth Noland' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
50 ¼ x 102 in. (127.6 x 259 cm.)
Painted in 1969
Lawrence Rubin Gallery, New York .
Schulhof Collection, New York.
Their sale, Christie's New York, 15 November 2012, lot 201.
Private Collection, USA.
Leslie Feely, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, 1977, no. 91, p. 47 (illustrated in colour, p. 101). This exhibition later travelled to Washington D.C., Corcoran Gallery; Ohio, Toledo Museum of Art, 1978 and Denver, Denver Art Museum, 1978.


‘The thing is to get that colour down to the thinnest conceivable surface, a surface sliced into the air as if by a razor. It’s all colour and surface, that’s all.’
– Kenneth Noland

Bands of saturated colour bound an open expanse of canvas in Kenneth Noland’s Stellar Wise. Using muted blues, dusty rose, umber, mauve and dandelion yellow, the slim bands evoke a desert landscape, ambiguous and geographically undiscovered. In seeking balance between structure and colour, Noland works within a fixed layout, yet Stellar Wise never feels predictable, and much of the painting’s joy comes from how the artist achieved such delicate chromatic harmonies. Curator Diane Waldman declared that ‘Noland ranks with Delacroix and the Impressionists among the great colour painters of the modern era. Unquestionably heir to Matisse and Klee in the realm of colour expression…Noland’s search for the ideal Platonic form has crystallized into an art in which colour and form are held in perfect equilibrium. The spare geometry of his form heightens the emotional impact of his colour’ (D. Waldman, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1977, p. 36).
In addition to his dialogue with the aforementioned artists, Noland cites Jackson Pollock’s all over paintings as influential on his emerging art practice. Both artists wanted each individual work to be experienced as a complete entity; looking should be holistic and not piecemeal. In Stellar Wise, this is evident in the lack of focal point and the ribbon’s extension towards the infinite. Ultimately, Noland broke from Abstract Expressionism, but remained committed to finding new ways of painting beyond the representational.

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