Paul Reed is one of the founding artists of the Washington Color School. He was a native Washingtonian, leaving only for a short time spent in San Diego and eight years in New York City before returning to DC. He, Gene Davis, Jacob Kainen, and Howard Mehring were all close friends, and together they brought international attention to Washington’s art scene.
The 1960s marked the beginning of Reed’s Upstarts series, a series of paintings with bands of hard-edge color moving in zigzag fashion or creating a grid across raw canvas. In his Coherence paintings (one of which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art), Reed was inspired by the repeated rhythm of strong lines in Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles (Number 11), 1952 (now hanging in the National Gallery of Australia). (You can read a short description of Reed’s work in a short Artforum article published at the time of Reed’s death.)
This work shows Reed’s process of putting together shape, color, and space to formulate the Coherence works.