Saturday, December 08, 2012


Clyfford Still was one of the first generation of Abstract Expressionist
painters in the years immediately following World War II. He was born in
South Dakota and raised in Washington State. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he eschewed the modern art world, preferring not to live in New York City. Instead he worked on the West Coast as an instructor at Washington University and the San Francisco Institute of Art.

During a visit to New York in 1945, artist Mark Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim. She was so impressed by his work that she offered him a one-man exhibition at her prestigious Art of This Century gallery.

He lived in New York for most of the 1950’s, the height of the Abstract Expressionist movement, but also a time when he became increasingly critical of the art world. In 1961 he severed his ties with commercial galleries and moved to a farmhouse in Maryland where he lived until his death in 1980.

Still was considered one of the foremost color-field painters. Unlike Rothko and Barnett Newman, Still’s arrangements are less regular. Jagged fields of black and yellow contest with flashes of white and slashes of red, struggling against each other, evoking natural forms, outcroppings of rock, ancient caverns, primordial stalactites, a sense of mystery and submerged violence.

During his life Still sold only about 150 paintings.. After his death, according to the artist’s wishes, his entire collection of 2400 paintings was sealed from public or scholarly access. Because so few were sold, they now have become very valuable. In 2005 a painting from 1955 sold for 7.8 million dollars/ In 2006 a painting from 1947 was sold for 21 million dollars, setting a new record for the artist.


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