Visual art piece is like a novel, it provokes by telling a story. And all novels, of every age, are concerned with the enigma of the self. And I would say that the visual stories are even more selfish and self-motivated. If talking modernism, then there is a trio, three selfish gentlemen who skilfully play with our visual sense by revealing, they are John Hoyland, Anthony Caro and Kenneth Noland.


John Hoyland, one of the leading abstract painters in Britain, has once said, that paintings are there to be experienced, they are events. They are also to be meditated on and to be enjoyed by the senses, to be felt through the eye. And by this feeling one can experience the forgetting of being. Hoyland’s honesty drags you into his visual world, and six decades of dedicated visualization and fearless self-expression shows his mastery of the abstract art.

In the late 1950s and 1960s being lead by the experience of American Abstract Expressionism John Hoyland became friends Kenneth Noland and Anthony Caro. I keep on feeling that the world is small, and the friendship of these three cross-continental artists is a great example. It was a friendship that lasted and inspired, fed and influenced all three of them. That friendship gave the courage to step onto the next level of self-expressionism.


To be a daring creative simply means you’re not afraid of your unique gift and you’ll do anything to channel it into something greater than yourself,
and that is perhaps what can be said to summarize of Hoyland’s contribution into the world of abstract imagery.


Both Hoyland and Noland shared an interest in the possibilities offered by the new medium of acrylic paint: acrylic was crucial to Noland’s exploration of paint’s materiality and the possibilities of color, and for Hoyland it was becoming indispensable in enabling him to exploit distinctions between opacity and translucency, in his use of colors and forms and their dispositions.


Kenneth Noland is probably one of the best-known American Color Field painters, although in the 1950s he was thought of as an abstract expressionist and in the early 1960s he was thought of as a minimalist painter. I would say that Kenneth Noland is funky and playful, and at the same gracefully minimal. His works are definitions of modernism.

One of my favorite pieces by Noland, Extent (1959), differs in it’s extent, from a shape and color selection, to the concentration point. It’s edgy yet warm, and friendly. It’s welcoming.


Hoyland, Noland and Caro are similar, and yet so different, each one of them is a complete artist in itself. With their own narrative mode, they are never making a scene, they’re just being themselves. 

The friendship of Caro and Noland had first begun in 1959 when Caro found his ideas sharpened by his encounters with the American artist, who was a leading figure among the post-painterly abstraction painters. Already well established as an important color-field painter and figure in the Washington Colour School, Noland left an indelible impression on his British peer with his commitment to the exploration of color’s psychic and phenomenological effects through serialized forms. The encounter had its influence on Caro’s practice, turning him away from the figurative style toward the kinds of geometric forms he had seen in Noland’s work.


Anthony Caro’s abstract sculptures challenge the irrational forces of the viewer’s soul. Caro violates the solitude of the viewer with his forms and transforms. His modernist works are usually characterized by assemblages of metal using ‘found’ industrial objects. And require advanced depth of feeling and meaning behind kind of a liquid architectural balance.

Caro’s sculptures are about contingencies and specifics: they evoke very particular emotions, thoughts and feelings depending upon the act of looking.

Helen Keller once said, that true friends never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart. From the mid-1960s onwards, the three artists continued to have a lively awareness of each other’s work and maintained their friendship, meeting on both sides of the Atlantic, and keeping on perfecting their craft.

Hoyland, Caro and Noland all emerged in the wake of the first generation of the New York School and sought to continue the legacies of their abstract forebears. There is a great deal of reflection, study, experience, and passion behind it, but their tone is never serious, it is provocative.


Anthony Caro, John Hoyland, Kenneth Noland will explore the matrix of concern: color, form, material and working in series. A selection of work by each artist from the 1960s and 1970s will be exhibited in PACE London gallery, 20 November 2015 – 16 January 2016



Written by by Julia Ahtijainen
Published on LE MILE magazine