Kenneth Noland, one of the most prominent proponents of the American „colour field painting„ movement, today lives and works in New York and Vermont. He was born in 1924 in Ashville/North Carolina. During childhood his interest in art has been aroused and supported. After serving as glider pilot and cryptographer in the US Air Force during the Second World War, he studied, like two of his brothers, at the Black Mountain College in his home town from 1946 to 1948. His teachers were Ilja Bolotowsky and, briefly, Josef Albers. His earliest works, based on harmonic proportions, comprised carefully balanced coloured elements in the primary colours as well as black, white and grey. Being inspired by paintings of Paul Klee, Noland's works from this period have many expressive and figurative features.
The picture „Stairs Up/Stairs Down„ in the Arithmeum is one of a series called „Doors„, which date from the 1980s. Three fields of colour are fit together at different heights. Slim coloured stripes of Perpex accentuate the edges of the picture. At some points he fixed these pieces at the lateral surface, in a way that the viewer, standing in front of the picture, only recognizes the narrow side of the Perpex as a coloured line. The Perpex, which creates a light impression of colour, stands in contrast to the dull colours of the fixed canvasses. It is this contrast which makes the structure of the picture lively and tense, as the considerably smaller pieces of coloured Perpex in their brilliance assert themselves against the restrained colours of the canvasses. With this work, Noland has created a subtle sculpture of colour, in which two different materials are brought into accord with the help of well-employed contrasts of colour.