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Clyfford Still


Not on view



Oil on canvas

Overall: 113 1/8 × 147 1/4in. (287.3 × 374 cm)

Accession number

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc., Leonard A. Lauder, President

Rights and reproductions
© Clyfford Still Museum/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

In this enormous painting—measuring more than 9 feet high and 12 feet long—Clyfford Still’s trademark colored cracks sluice the canvas with crisp, serrated edges. Made with a palette knife in thick layers of impasto, the jagged crimson, black, and white shapes are defined in areas of accreted paint and punctured by tiny crags of electric blue and deep yellow. Although Still’s imagery has been compared to lightning bolts or fissures in the earth, he cited immaterial sources: “I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit.” Still resisted identifying single explanations or interpretations of his paintings and avoided titling them. While he distanced himself from the other Abstract Expressionist painters, elements of Still’s work reflect the innovations of the movement, particularly the notion that every part of a painting’s flat surface could pulse with energy.   

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