Jacques Louis David
Cupid and Psyche, 1817
Color defines form. A skilled painter like David uses
lush shades of red and orange to give the illusion of flesh and fabric.
Modernists believed that color must be freed
from that service.
Woman with a Hat, 1905
Matisse's painting scandalized the art world.
Color was doing very little work here in defining form and image.
Matisse seemed to be celebrating color for itself.
Why was her nose green?
Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913
The next step was abandoning image for abstract shape.
Homage to the Square, 1959
And then it was a slippery slope to abandoning everything but color.
Orange and Yellow, 1956
Number 99, 1960
These abstractionists from the mid-20th-century were known as color field painters.
Black Paintings from the 1960s
And then abandoning color....
Color, once freed, left the building.