Betty Parsons’ adeptness as a colorist and affinity for thinly painted surfaces is apparent in abstract paintings like this Untitled gouache taken from one of her many sketchbooks. Against a nearly monochromatic steel blue background, Parsons renders geometric shapes in shades of red, yellow, and blue dispersed across the composition. Etching into the paint with the end of her brush, she produces a rough texture within each of these disparate shapes. The combination of scattered abstract forms spread wildly across a monochrome expanse was one of the Parsons’ most noted compositional innovations. New York Times critic Roberta Smith described the approach as “a technique that… finesses its way between the emotionality of Abstract Expressionism and the formal ecstasies of Color Field painting.”
1999: Shaping a Generation: The Art and Artists of Betty Parsons, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY
DePietro, Anne Cohen. Shaping a Generation: The Art and Artists of Betty Parsons. Huntington, NY: Heckscher Museum of Art, 1999.