In 1949, Kenneth Noland returned to the United States after a trip to Paris and settled in Washington, DC. He was immediately attracted to The Phillips Collection, specifically its selection of Paul Klee paintings. Noland had previously been exposed to Klee’s work when he studied at Black Mountain College between 1946 and 1948, responding to Klee’s innovative use of color. Noland frequently visited the Phillips, making a close and careful study of Klee’s works. He remarked once that visiting the Phillips was “like going to church.”
Klee’s influence is particularly obvious in Noland’s 1950 painting Inside. Noland built up layers of paint to create the textured surface, and used a dark background to enhance the bright yellows and blues. Like Klee, Noland used angular biomorphic shapes to further build up the painting’s intensity. Noland’s textured paint surface and electric use of color create an integrated design of symbols and color, a primary concern for Noland throughout his career.