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Downing, Thomas


acrylic on canvas

1978 Gift of Richard and Patricia Madlener

Thomas Downing first recognized the expressive potential of color when he saw Ken Noland's "target" paintings in 1960. Downing eventually developed his unique style of painting that emphasized the power of color presented in simple, symmetrical shapes. Downing arranged small circles or "dots" of color in a grid format to emphasize the effect of one color on another.

In this untitled painting, Downing revealed how the relationship between colored dots could produce a sense of movement. He arranged the colored dots in rows that seem to flicker and pulsate. As you look at the painting, an optical illusion occurs -- darker colored dots appear on the unprimed canvas bewteen the painted ones. The dots forming a square in the center of the painting seem to move forward while the blue-gray dots around its border recede into the background.