from Margo Arnold
Paul Richard gave a captivating talk Monday night. His lecture, "The Color School's Pedigree", kept the packed room engaged for a full hour as he covered the history of the Color School from its beginnings to its end, and overturned several of the generally-accepted legends about the artists and the community in which they worked.
More than 100 collectors, artists, and art aficionados listened, asked questions, and reflected on the tale Richard told as he he showed slides of work by numerous Washington artists of the 60s, their predecessors and descendants.
As his slides showed work by Kenneth Noland and Louis Morris, Paul discussed how the Color School is often thought to be an outgrowth of the work of contemporaries in New York such as Helen Frankenthaler. But that formulation fails to consider the unique innovation these painters made, and how those innovations were shaped by the facts of their lives in Washington, and other diverse influences on their aesthetic.
Paul's focused on the color of the Color School, and the various ways in which diverse figures such as Josef Albers and Vincent Augustus Tack (one of the great treasures of the Phillips Collection) influenced these painters, as they sought to create a vocabulary of pure color in their painting.
This reevaluation of the Color Painters as Washington painters is part of the mission of the Washington Color School Project. Funny and profound by turns, Paul's analysis of painting and the city is a prime example of the kind of critical reassessment that needs support from those of us who care about art and artistic life in Washington.