Alma Thomas: Through Color

Alma Thomas, Iris, Tulips, Jonquils and Crocuses, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 60 by 50 inches (National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.)
Alma Thomas, Iris, Tulips, Jonquils and Crocuses, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 60 by 50 inches (National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.)

Richard Kalina reviews a retrospective exhibition of works by Alma Thomas at The Studio Museum in Harlem, on view through October 30, 2016.

Kalina writes: "With an impressive command of negative space, Thomas pushes at the seemingly straightforward and simple constructions, adding a richness and slowness of read and allowing different modes of perception to be set in counterpoint. This perceptual complexity, along with the fusion of color and structure, lies, I believe, at the core of the renewed interest in the work not just of Thomas, but also of formally oriented Color Field painters of the ’60s and ’70s, like Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis. (All spent considerable time in D.C.) With this in mind, it might be time to remove the implicit “merely” from the appellation “formal.” The formal, it turns out, is a house with many rooms."