Capital Art: Rethinking the Washington Color School


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This project analyzes the Washington Color School, a loose designation for artists in Washington, DC during the 1960s, and argues that their achievements were deeply rooted in unique conditions germane to their adopted city. Key Washington Color School figures are frequently understood to share an interest in the possibilities of abstract color, a reading that foregrounds formal affinities and situates their work within the broader legacy of color field painting and abstraction in the United States. Such an approach, however, overlooks the impact of the specificity of place on these artists. Close readings of work by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Alma Thomas, Anne Truitt, and others elucidate practices that both respond to local conditions and intersect with tendencies across the globe. Far from confining the impact of the Washington Color School to its site of origin, this project assesses its significance through discrete moments of transnational exchange.