After Dark | Kenneth Noland

Kenneth Noland

Here-There, 1985

Painted aluminum on atrium wall

Five-story interior wall mural


Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds

An adventurous tour of MIT’s more remote buildings. Best followed in the evening so that night has fallen for the later pieces.

This tour was created by Joseph Faraguna, class of 2020, in Bioengineering and with a minor in Computer Science. Faraguna was a List Center Student Guide for all four years of his undergraduate career. 

Kenneth Noland had never executed a painting on an architectural scale before being asked to work on the Wiesner Building alongside architect I.M. Pei and sculptor Scott Burton. Here-There is painted directly onto the building’s metal frames, adding a textured, human impression to the modernist atrium. Noland was a leading figure in the American Color Field movement of the 1940s and 1950s and his studio pieces often focused on the tension between the image and the canvas’s shape. What is Here-There’s relationship with Pei’s atrium? How do changes in the amount and quality of light affect the piece?

Building Number: E15

Accession Number: PFA.1985.001

Audio Transcript

This work of art was created by Kenneth Noland in 1985, as part of a collaboration supported by the MIT percent for art. Which included architect I.M. Pei, and artist Richard Fleischer, and Scott Burton.

Kenneth Noland was at the time a very well-known painter, whose work was usually associated with a group of painters under the name of Color Field.

Formalized Public Art Curator Patricia Fuller:

He had never before done an architectural commission. In this case the challenge for him, was to grapple with the scale of the architectural space and explore the use of standard building materials.

Architect Sandi Pei:

And what he ended up doing, was to really treat it as a one big enormous canvas that he very definitely introduced subtle colors to and some primary colors to really animate this wall.

Things seemed to jump and change and pulse it in your eye, in the middle of this very pristine, beautifully, skylight very restrained space.

The work has an elusive quality about it, you can never see it all at once.

The most intense and activated part is the interior atrium and then as it goes around the corner, it turns into a series of color blocks red, yellow, and black. And then in the other direction, it becomes a subtle blue line at the base of the building. It's a rich experience of the building through the art, it leads you and it makes you stop in the atrium and look up at that beautiful wall and then you see it on the outside. So in a funny way it's dissolving the interior and exterior of the building and making it a transparent transposition.

Additional commentaries on the architecture by I.M. Pei, and Scott Burton on Richard Fleischer's artwork, is available on the list website.