Howard Mehring (1931-1978) was one of the most influential artists of the Washington Color School. Mehring first earned attention for a series of striking stippled abstractions he included in a 1960 group show at Jefferson Place Gallery. The influential New York critic Clement Greenberg later included Mehring's work in the seminal 1964 Post-Painterly Abstraction exhibition, which brought him world-wide attention.
Mehring earned his MFA at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in 1955, where he met Kenneth Noland and Thomas Downing. Mehring traveled to New York to visit the studios and study the works of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler. When he returned to the DC area, Mehring began to paint in a similar loose technique of the New York School artists and Abstract Expressionists, but, like other painters in Washington at the time, developed a keen interest in the properties of color as a subject.
Over time Mehring favored geometric forms, sharp edges and rich tonal variations. Mehring also differed from his fellow Washington Color School artists by favoring a heavier painting technique and more stylized forms. He experimented with new fast-drying acrylics to find a personal direction in his art. He covered pastel fields with dappled patterns, a technique unique to Mehring in the Washington Color School. He further differentiated himself later by cutting canvases into smaller squares and collaging them together into large-scale new works, such as Double (1962) at Bethesda Fine Art. Later, Mehring made hard-edge paintings using mirrored geometric forms and zigzags.
Although only active from the years of 1957-1968, Mehring achieved international status as a prominent Washington Color School artist. His works were purchased from collectors such as Alfred Barr, Walter Hopps, and the Museum of Modern Art. Since his untimely death in 1978, reassessment of Mehring's work has proven him one of the most important figures in the Washington Color School. His works can be found at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Gallery of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum.