Colorfield Variations is a collection of audio/visual works reinterpreting the Color Field movement by an international array of critically acclaimed sound and new media artists and assembled by curator and sound artist Richard Chartier.
Color Field painting, an abstract style that emerged as a new direction in American painting in the 1950s following Abstract Expressionism, is characterized by canvases painted primarily with stripes, washes and fields of solid color. An alternate but less frequently encountered term for this style is chromatic abstraction. As the first critically acclaimed art movement to originate in the United States’s capital, the Washington Color School was key to the larger Color Field movement. As a reaction to the emotional energy and gestural surfaces of Abstract Expressionists, the Color Field artists broke away from the individual mark in favor of pure color itself becoming the main content of the work. By breaking painting down to its formal and fundamental elements, the Color Field artists created pure, simplified, large-format, color-dominated fields on often monumental scale utilizing the full psychological power of color.
Artists such as Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Sam Gilliam, Larry Poons, Gene Davis, Jules Olitski, and others eliminated recognizable imagery from their canvas and presented abstraction as an end in itself with each work being a cohesive image. The Color Field movement can be seen as a precursor to the themes and aesthetics of the subsequent Minimalist movement.