Al Held - Magenta
American, 1928 - 2005
Magenta, 1990
Aquatint with spit bite aquatint, 40.5 x 54.25 inches
Edition 4/50
Crown Point Press

Gift of Judy and J.D. Williamson II (BBA '67, MBA '68)

Al Held's style dominated abstraction in the 1960s. Also known as Formalist Abstraction, this was an art whose expressive power derived from pure color and design, not from any preferences to the visual world of appearances nor to literary content.

Magenta is a work from Held's later period when he reintroduced color and complex three-dimensional shapes. Here, he arranged interlocking projections of an etched circle, square and triangle - the three basic geometrical forms. He then filled them in with brilliant aquatint washes of the basic primary and secondary colors: red, blue, yellow; green, purple, and orange. Held's exceptional use of intaglio processes in this print is the result of his long-term collaboration with Crown Point Press, one of the premiere American print workshops. What is so engaging about Magenta is not only its color and large scale but Held's creative ability to hold clarity and ambiguity in exact balance. What seems clear-cut and predictable as a series of geometrical shapes is simultaneously complex. The title itself plays into this scheme of things inasmuch as magenta is the subtlest of all the colors that nonetheless holds its own.