Consider this. Jackson Pollock - "Jack the Dripper," perhaps the most revolutionary painter of the 20th century - said "Still makes the rest of us look academic."
Fortunately, there's now the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, a seemingly fabulous venue for the near entirety of Still's work. The first part of Clyfford Still: The Artist's Museum is Dean Sobel's recounting of how the museum came to be. You must understand that while many 20th century abstract painters tried to exert more and more control over how and where their work was displayed, Still has been the only one to have his wish granted in the extreme. As per the terms of his will, all of the works in his estate would be given to the American city that would build and maintain in perpetuity a museum dedicated solely to his work. We all owe the city of Denver a great deal of thanks (as well as a visit) because now that the overwhelming majority of Still's work is available for viewing and study we're starting to learn (and unlearn) more about him.
And that's the second part of The Artist's Museum: David Anfam's insightful essay on Still's career. His early years in Alberta, Canada and the American Northwest were dominated by his father's fateful farming experience which likely drilled into Still the struggle between man and machine and nature. The first painting that hints at his mature style is PH-77 from 1936. In it you can see the strength of his brushwork, the elongation of the human forms, the intertwining of earth and person.
|Clyfford Still, PH-77, 1936 source|
|Clyfford Still, PH-343, 1937 source|
|Clyfford Still, PH-313, 1942. source|
|Clyfford Still, PH-605, 1950, pp. 186-187|
|Clyfford Still, 1956 J No. 1, 1956|
Anfam is more eloquent. "Effects of concealment and a menacing, lugubrious otherness repeatedly meet an eye-opening onslaught of tactile immediacy and sheer chroma."
I just say Still's paintings are some of the most powerful, riveting, and engaging that I've ever seen.
Glad you enjoyed it.
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