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Untitled, 1962

Raymond Parker

American, 1922-1990
Oil on canvas
66 x 77 in. (167.6 x 195.6 cm)
Norton Simon Museum, Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Kootz

Not on view

Ray Parker, a longtime teacher at Hunter College in New York City, is sometimes referred to as a second generation Abstract Expressionist. He played a fundamental role in reshaping Abstract Expressionism by consolidating his imagery and gesture into a few densely painted forms. He retained, however, a reliance on improvisation and intuition, welcoming discoveries in the act of painting. Color was his pursuit, and he became known for large, airy abstractions where isolated chromatic clouds float on the canvas. He called these canvases his “simple paintings” because he wanted to “cut out everything else but pigment and ground and let color tell the whole story.” He applied his paint wet on wet in layers with brushes and rags according to the “needs” of the color that were dictated by light, density, transparency and weight.

Here, two dusky formations hover over the neutral, unprimed support, their ragged edges skirting the structure of recognizable shapes. Parker didn’t worry the ambiguity of their relationship, seeking instead to de-emphasize arrangement and eliminate pictorial devices of drawing and modeling as
a means to release color’s expressive force. In this way, his color forms elude symbolic associations and function rather as equivalents for space, atmosphere and even emotions or states of mind.

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