…in the later 1950s a generation of artists that included Parker, Kenneth Noland, Al Held, Jack Youngerman, and Frank Stella pushed toward a more distilled and clarified type of painting, moving beyond what they had felt had become the overworked surfaces and dulled color of much later Abstract Expressionism. The Simple Paintings were at the forefront of this drive. These younger artists retained the scale, immediacy, and power of Abstract Expressionism, which they held in high esteem, but they sought to reinvigorate it, feeling that it had become too predictable, rhetorical, and even academic. The Simple Paintings have the brushed surfaces and rough edges associated with Abstract Expressionism, but in more focused, clearly defined, and articulated forms that look forward to the lean geometries and minimalist impulses of much art of the 1960s. The new drive dictated a greater reliance on color, which was restored to its full primacy after years in a lesser role in gestural abstraction. Parker later recalled that the impetus for the Simple Paintings had been the desire “to cut out everything else but pigment on ground and let color tell the whole story.” From there his forms “grew and spread, gradually becoming bigger or smaller, rounder or more square, more ragged or else exact and regular in their edges, all according to the need of the color surface to make itself dense enough and real,” as he described it. Thus, the Simple Paintings both announced and participated in what we know as the color field painting of the 1960s, which had actually come to fruition in the later 1950s.
William C. Agee
Ray Parker: Paintings 1958-197, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2006, pp. 5-6
 Letter to Gerald Nordland, quoted in Gerald Nordland, “A Few Thoughts on Ray Parker and His Work,” in William C. Agee et al, Ray Parker 1922-1990, exh. Cat. (New York: The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, Hunter College, 1990), p. 17