Washington Color and Light
Gene Davis, Junkie’s Curtain, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 115 5/8 x 219 1/8 inches, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of the artist, 1970.17. © Estate of Gene Davis, Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Washington Color and Light presents major works from the Corcoran collection by the artists associated with the Washington Color School and their contemporaries. These works are united by an exploration of the language of abstraction, a desire to experiment with materials, and a love of color. The exhibition reveals the artistic innovations and individual approaches that shaped new directions in abstract painting and sculpture from the 1950s through the late 1970s.
Living and working in Washington, D.C., Gene Davis, Thomas Downing, Morris Louis, Howard Mehring, Kenneth Noland, and Paul Reed first displayed works together in an exhibition called Washington Color Painters in 1965. While these six artists never thought of themselves as a group, the Color School title became synonymous with local abstract painting of the time. Washington Color and Light includes: galleries dedicated to the monumental stripe paintings of Gene Davis; meditations on color and space by Thomas Downing; and hard-edge abstract paintings by Howard Mehring, Kenneth Noland, and Paul Reed. In addition, the exhibition includes sculptures by Rockne Krebs, Ed McGowin, and Anne Truitt, as well as color-saturated paintings by Willem de Looper, Sam Gilliam, and Alma Thomas.
Support for the installation of Washington Color and Light is made possible in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.