Color Field Painting

Color field painting

Techniques. Resources. Creative Processes. Genres

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Color Field Painting


Color field painting is one of the trends or styles of Abstract Expressionism (movement born in the 40s of the 20th century, although this style emerged in the 50s).

The artist paints color zones that transmit pure emotions in canvases that are usually huge —a fundamental characteristic to achieve the effect—.

It is a type of Expressionism where abstraction is decidedly “pure.” There are no abstract forms, not even forms. Color is no longer another element in the work. It is not tied to an object that colors and instead it is free, independent, expresses something itself. The viewer situated in opposition to theses color zones is surrounded by the emotions that those zones cause.

For Mark Rothko, the most emblematic painter of this technique, it is not an aesthetic experience and is wasted if lived as such. It is a spiritual experience. He compares it to a “religious experience.”

In other words of the artist: “I’m not interested in the relationships of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures show that I communicate those basic human emotions… The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.”


Image: No. 46 (Black, Ochre, Red Over Red). 1957. Mark Rothko. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles.


Recommended links:

Abstract Expressionism.

Abstract Expressionism, Liberation of Emotions.

Genres and techniques: psychic automatism.

The Last Paintings of Monet: a Touch of Expressionism?

Genres and techniques: painting alla prima.

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