The Washington Color School, Pt1


The Washington Color School was a visual-art movement that was centered in Washington D.C. from the late 1950s to the late 1960s.  The work was a form of abstraction that developed from color field painting, as exemplified by the work of Mark Rothko and Helen Frankenthaler. 

The Washington Color School originally consisted of a group of painters who showed works in an exhibit called the “Washington Color Painters” at the now-defunct Washington Gallery of Modern Art in Washington from June 25 to September 5, 1965. This exhibition, which subsequently traveled to several other venues in the United States, including the Walker Art Center, solidified Washington’s place in the national movement and defined what is considered the city’s signature art movement. The exhibition’s organizer was Gerald “Gerry” Nordland and the painters included Gene Davis, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Howard Mehring, Thomas “Tom” Downing, and Paul Reed.

To start this series, here is an interview with Corcoran Gallery of Art curator Beatrice Gralton about the Washington Color School for the museum’s retrospective in 2013.

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