Day 53! It’s actually day 53…hopefully I don’t fall behind again now that I’m in my new house. This is another painting I thoroughly enjoyed painting even though I was up at 2AM painting it! Join me in celebrating Clyfford Still!
Clyfford Still (November 30, 1904 – June 23, 1980) was an American painter, and one of the leading figures of Abstract Expressionism.
Clyfford Still was a leader in the first generation of Abstract Expressionists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. Still’s contemporaries included Philip Guston, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. Though the styles and approaches of these artists varied considerably, Abstract Expressionism is marked by abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and monumental scale, all of which were used to convey universal themes about creation, life, struggle, and death (“the human condition”), themes that took on a considerable relevance during and after World War II. Described by many as the most anti-traditional of the Abstract Expressionists, Still is credited with laying the groundwork for the movement. Still’s shift from representational painting to abstraction occurred between 1938 and 1942, earlier than his colleagues, who continued to paint in figurative-surrealist styles well into the 1940s.
Still was born in 1904 in Grandin, North Dakota and spent his childhood in Spokane,
Washington and Bow Island in southern Alberta, Canada. Although Abstract Expressionism is identified as a New York movement, Still’s formative works were created during various teaching posts on the West Coast, first at Washington State University (1935–41). His work of this period is marked by an expressive figurative style used in depictions of the people, buildings, tools and machinery characteristic of farm life. By the late 1930s, he began to simplify his forms as he moved from representational painting toward abstraction. In 1941 Still relocated to the San Francisco Bay area where, following work in various war industries, he became a highly influential professor at the California School of Fine Arts, now known as the San Francisco Art Institute. He taught there from 1946-1950 (with a break in the summer of 1948 when he returned to New York). It was during this time when Still “broke through” to his mature style. Still also taught at the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) nowVirginia Commonwealth University from 1943 to 1945.
Still visited New York for extended stays in the late 1940s and became associated with two of the galleries that launched the new American art to the world — Peggy Guggenheim’s The Art of This Century Gallery and the Betty Parsons gallery. Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who gave him a solo exhibition at her Art of This Century gallery in early 1946. Later that year, the artist returned to San Francisco, where he taught for the next four years at the California School of Fine Arts. He lived in New York for most of the 1950s, the height of Abstract Expressionism, but also a time when he became increasingly critical of the art world. In the early 1950s, Still severed ties with commercial galleries and in 1961 moved to a 22 acre farm near Westminster, Maryland, removing himself further from the art world. The property was located on eastern side of Old Westminster Road about one-half mile north of the intersection with Stone Chapel Road. Still used a barn on the property as a studio during the warm weather months. In 1966, Still and his wife purchased a large 4,300 square foot house at 312 Church Street in New Windsor, Maryland about 8 miles from their farm primarily to store his paintings. Art critic Katharine Kuh described the large home as “filled to capacity with multiple rolled canvases, each identified by Pat with a small sketch of the original” with only a cramped section of the kitchen reserved for entertaining.
He remained in Maryland with his second wife, Patricia, until his death in 1980. Following his death, all works that had not entered
the public domain were sealed off from both public and scholarly view, closing off access to one of the most significant American painters of the 20th century.
Still was also considered one of the foremost Color Field painters – his non-figurative paintings are non-objective, and largely concerned with juxtaposing different colors and surfaces in a variety of formations. Unlike Mark Rothko or Barnett Newman who organized their colors in a relatively simple way (Rothko in the form of nebulous rectangles, Newman in thin lines on vast fields of color), Still’s arrangements are less regular. His jagged flashes of color give the impression that one layer of color has been “torn” off the painting, revealing the colors underneath.
Another point of departure with Newman and Rothko is the way the paint is laid on the canvas; while Rothko and Newman used fairly flat colors and relatively thin paint, Still uses a thick impasto, causing subtle variety and shades that shimmer across the painting surfaces. His large mature works recall natural forms and natural phenomena at its most intense and mysterious; ancient stalagmites, caverns, foliage, seen both in darkness and in light lend poetic richness and depth to his work.
By 1947, he had begun working in the format that he would intensify and refine
throughout the rest of his career — a large-scale color field applied with palette knives. Among Still’s well known paintings is 1957-D No. 1, 1957, (above), which is mainly black and yellow with patches of white and a small amount of red. These four colors, and variations on them (purples, dark blues) are predominant in his work, although there is a tendency for his paintings to use darker shades.
Read more of his extensive biography from wikipedia.
Again, I really enjoyed creating this piece amid the chaos of my move! I don’t even know how I’m still standing…or currently sitting. I feel like if I close my eyes for longer than a blink I’m going to fall into a 3 day coma…yes, specifically 3 days. I hope you enjoy my tribute! I’m going to go unpack boxes now. See you tomorrow on Day 54! Wee! Linda
PS I apologize for the lighting in the picture if it seems weird. I didn’t have time to take a photo during daylight so I had to pin it up in my new laundry room and take a photo. 😉
You can turn the lights out. The paintings will carry their own fire. (Clyfford Still)