Clyfford Still, ‘PH-950’, 1950, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, Colorado

About Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still is celebrated as one of the original innovators of abstract expressionism, primarily because he fused the two predominant painting styles of the radical postwar movement—gestural (championed by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock) and color field (established by Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko). Originally born in North Dakota, Still began spending time in New York in the 1940s and subsequently exhibited with the two galleries that first championed abstract painting: Art of This Century and Betty Parsons. In 1951 Still famously cut ties with the commercial art world and many of his fellow artists, vowing to only exhibit his paintings in museums and institutions. Today, nearly 95 percent of Still’s work, most of which is dated between 1951 and the year of his death in 1980, is housed in the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado. Perhaps shedding light on his reclusive leanings and his commitment to psychologically driven abstract painting, Still once said of his work, “These are not paintings in the usual sense, they are life and death, merging in fearful union.”

American, 1904-1980, Grandin, North Dakota, based in San Francisco, California