Paul Reed American, 1919-2015


Paul Reed, an artist associated with the Washington Color School, was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Reed and his colleagues were known for their abstract paintings, which were created by using the technique of soak-staining pigment into the canvas. At that time, this method differed dramatically from the thickly painted gestural strokes of the New York School’s action paintings. The Color School artists employed thinned, acrylic paint that was absorbed into the canvas itself, emphasizing the flatness of the image and focusing on color and design. This technique created abstract fields, or shapes, of color, which for some artists were simplifications of forms in nature. These works have a dynamic lyricism that claims the picture space.

Reed had his first solo exhibition at the Adams-Morgan Gallery in 1963. He was one of six artists, including Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, to show in the 1965 exhibition, “The Washington Color Painters” held at the Washington Gallery of Modern Art. Unlike the work of many of his fellow artists, Reed’s works of the 1970s are characterized by a hard-edged geometric style, though his shapes are formed by the staining techniques typical of color field paintings. However, by the 1990s, Reed began to include more decorative aspects in his overall geometric compositions, building up the surface, giving it texture, and therefore, greater presence. Reed’s works have been widely exhibited and are in many American museum collections. The artist continues to live and work in the Washington area.

Museums and Public Collections

National Gallery of Art

Phillips Collection

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Smithsonian Museum of American Art

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Art Institute of Chicago

Detroit Institute of At

Walker Art Center

High Museum of Art

Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Phoenix Art Museum

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Wadsworth Athenaeum


Adams-Morgan Gallery, Washington, DC, 1963 (solo)

East Hampton Gallery, New York, 1963, 1964, 1966 (solo)

Jefferson Place Gallery, D.C., 1964 (solo)

Washington Gallery of Modern Art, 19655

Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, 1967, 1971 (solo)

Pyramid Gallery, D.C., 1971, 1973 (solo)

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2011

Workhouse Art Center, Lorton, VA, 2011 (retrospective)

Georgetown University, 2011 (retrospective)

D. Wigmore Fine Art, 2013 (retrospective)

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