With its three bands of dramatic saturated colour that dominate the otherwise stark white canvas, Kenneth Noland’s Overtones (1961) marks a departure from his trademark Circle works. Executed with magma paint applied upon canvas, Noland’s lines of lilac, red, and solar yellow bleed out from their points of concentration, softening the rigid linearity of their forms. The artist’s bold investigations of colour exemplify Diane Walkman’s accolade that his ‘distilled form and sensuous colour intermesh to create a magic presence. His colour is space. Colour is all’ (D. Waldman, Kenneth Noland: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1977, p. 36). While their distribution across the canvas gently evokes lines of lilac landscape and sunlit sky, Noland’s bands of heightened hue carry no shapely motif and remain inherently abstract, enabling him to create a work that, liberated from figuration, remains determined by purely aesthetic concerns. Noland elaborates: ‘I do open paintings. I like lightness, airiness, and the way colour pulsates. The presence of the painting is all that’s important’ (K. Noland, quoted in K. Moffet, Kenneth Noland, New York, 1977, p. 51). Derived from the tenets of Abstract Expressionism, Noland’s chromatic zones are a reiteration of the ‘zips’ that form the foundation of Barnett Newman’s Vir Heroicus Sublimis series. Indeed Noland’s works have been championed by Clement Greenberg, the leading Abstract Expressionist critic, for the sublime vitality that permeates the pure formality of his colour field. The aesthetic balance and harmony of Overtones demonstrates Noland’s masterful understanding of colour and space.