Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Clyfford Still

1962-D by Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still's large abstract canvases initially predated the abstract expressionism of Rothko and Pollock, between which Still occupies a middle ground. His uncompromising work is about pure experience at its elemental extreme, the profundity of a Rembrandt stripped of imagery. 

He shunned fame and stated in his will that his 2,000+ paintings be kept under lock and key for 40 years after his death and then shown publicly only if a museum, without a cafe or a gift shop, could be built with the sole purpose of  housing them. That museum was built in Denver just four years ago (2011).

Most of Still's paintings, executed in palette knife and all untitled, reflect a stylized iconography of veils or flames in which everything trivial, personal, or transitory is smothered or burned away. In the above painting a jagged red shape not unlike a sun butns either in front of or behind ragged black and white veils.

“I hold it imperative to evolve an instrument of thought which will aid in cutting through all cultural opiates, past and present, so that a direct, immediate, and truly free vision can be achieved. . .and I affirm my profound concern to achieve a purpose beyond vanity, ambition, or remembrance.”  — Clyfford Still

"Thus all concentrates....Let us stun and astonish the intruding rabble of men and books and institutions by a simple declaration of the divine fact." -Emerson


  1. Very interesting Christopher. Thank you.

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