Ray Parker


c. 1962
oil on canvas
69 x 64 inches

An important member of the New York School and Color Field movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Ray Parker is best known for his Simple Paintings – large scale works made by applying paint with a rag to produce sumptuous texture and subtle, muted hues. Like fellow Color Field painters Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell, Parker emphasized color with quiet compositions focused on the harmony and dissonance of his chosen palette. Parker’s rubbed paint technique allowed him to improvise and incorporate internal rhythm within expansive cloud-like shapes, seen here in the loosely defined fields of blue-gray, olive, and rose that he has rubbed into the soft white background. Born in South Dakota, Parker moved to New York in 1955 and began teaching at Hunter College in the late 1950s, a school known for hiring working artists at the center of the modern art scene in New York, working alongside Tony Smith and Robert Motherwell. Paintings by Ray Parker are in the collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Tate Gallery, London; MoMA; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Guggenheim Museum; and the Whitney Museum.