The Washington Color School

ABOVE: Installation view of Fold Twelve by Thomas Downing. BELOW: Gene Davis,  Junkie's Curtain, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 115 x 225 inches, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Images: Matthew Smith.

The Color Field painters of the the Washington Color School were mostly linked by curators and critics rather than by social ties. Yet despite their loose personal connections they came to form a cohesive art movement that positioned Washington, DC at the epicenter of abstraction innovation in the 1960s. Artists like Morris Louis, Thomas Downing, and Gene Davis, among others, pioneered or expanded upon a variety of techniques that furthered the boundaries that defined painting at the time. Often characterized by their use of oversized canvases and hard-edged swaths of solid, bold colors, Washington Color School artists sought to distance themselves from the emotional baggage of their abstract expressionist roots, instead presenting color in its purest form as the ultimate medium of aesthetic expression.

The minimalist renderings of the Washington Color School are currently on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC in the exhibition Washington Color and Light, on view through March 6.  —Matthew Smith, DC contributor

Installation views, Washington Color and Light, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Installation view of Ring Three by Thomas Downing


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