Clyfford Still

A fresh look at a founding Abstract Expressionist

Above: PH-247 by Clifford Still. Art Page / Home Page: PH-950 by Clyfford Still. All images courtesy of @still_museum / instagram

BY: Liz MacDonald

One of the most influential figures the Abstract Expressionist movement, Clyfford Still led the way in the shift from representational to abstract painting. His raw, powerful abstracts predate the work of peers like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman by years. Though categorized as a Color Field painter, Still’s distinctive style is unique, instantly recognizable for its color and jagged intersecting colors and intense juxtapositions. “When I first saw a 1948 painting of Still’s, I was impressed as never before by how estranging and upsetting genuine originality in art can be” said art critic Clement Greenberg about Still’s art in 1955. More than sixty years later, it still feels that way. We’ve created a gallery of some our favorite Clyfford Still images, above and below.





It’s a beautiful #Denver morning, and we can’t seem to pull away from 1951-K (PH-369), 1951. A post shared by Clyfford Still Museum (@still_museum) on



Admission is ‪#‎FREE‬ this weekend during Doors Open Denver–‪#‎DOD2016‬. Make time to visit and see our current exhibition that closes on May 15. ‪#‎ClyffordStill‬ painted PH-211–one of the paintings ‪#‎NowOnView‬ –in 1936 on burlap rather than canvas. He was living in Pullman, Washington, teaching at Washington State College (now @washington_university_ ) and the ‪#‎GreatDepression‬ and ‪#‎DustBowl ‬were in full swing. Although Still used many different supports throughout his career, it’s our understanding that this was mainly due to the cost or availability of canvas—especially in large sizes. Some of the more unconventional materials Still used include linen, burlap, denim, window shade material, and cardboard. His resourcefulness speaks to his intense dedication, and it’s a heartwarming detail about a man with a deep passion and devotion to his calling. Image Credit: Clyfford Still, PH-211, 1936, Oil on burlap, 35.75 x 59.20 in. Clyfford Still Museum © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY A post shared by Clyfford Still Museum (@still_museum) on


#ClyffordStill intentionally left his work untitled. In the 1960s he began to inventory his oeuvre, assigning letters and numbers to each piece for the sake of documentation. PHX-44, #NowOnView, is one of the rare works that Still left undocumented. It also happens to be a #replica of two other paintings Still created in 1947 while he was living in San Francisco, and teaching at the California School of Fine Arts (now @sfaiofficial ). Although PHX-44 is undated, we believe it was created in 1947 as well, the same year that the #WorldSeries was broadcast on television for the first time. A huge baseball fan, we can only assume that Still was watching. Image Credit: Clyfford Still, PHX-44, ca. 1947 (possibly unfinished). Oil on canvas, 69 1/2 x 77 1/8 in. Clyfford Still Museum © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY

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Don’t miss this noted painting #NowOnView. Amid global crises around 1940, as #WorldWarII consumed Europe (and the U.S. instituted its first-ever peacetime draft), Still’s paintings reached radical abstraction. Lines and shapes were freed from their representational origin, making Still’s work the first of his contemporaries to embody #AbEx characteristics. #Pollock, #Rothko, #DeKooning, and #Motherwell continued to paint in figurative modes well into the 1940s. PH-205, painted between 1939 and 1940, exhibits the synthesis of ideas Still had been working on for ten years and is one of his first abstractions. Image Credit: Clyfford Still, PH-205, 1939-40. Oil on canvas, 32.25 x 38.12 in. Clyfford Still Museum (c) City and County of Denver / ARS, NY A post shared by Clyfford Still Museum (@still_museum) on



Just one month left to visit and see Clyfford Still and the San Francisco Scene, an exhibition that complements the @denverartmuseum’s groundbreaking Women of Abstract Expressionism and highlights paintings made by Still in San Francisco between 1946 and 1950. Key among the artists leading the charge in abstract expressionism on the West Coast, Still counted Jay DeFeo, Sonia Gechtoff, and Deborah Remington, all included in Women of Abstract Expressionism, among his students and devoted West Coast admirers. Led by Still, several characteristics began to emerge in the work of West Coast artists during this period: denial of boundaries, surface materiality, and the idea of “event painting” to name a few. Image Credit: Clyfford Still, PH-272, 1950. Oil on canvas. 105 x 88 in. © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY. #AbEx #Denver #ClyffordStill A post shared by Clyfford Still Museum (@still_museum) on



As we count down the ten final days of “Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper,” we’re sharing PP-589, a pastel on #paper that Still created during the final decade of his life. The works from this period, especially the works on paper, “exhibit signs of humility, liberation, and peace.” (David Anfam, Bailey H. Placzek, Dean Sobel. “The Late Drawings.” In Clyfford Still: The Works on Paper. Denver: Clyfford Still Museum Research Center, 2016. || Clyfford Still, PP-589, 1972. Pastel on paper, 18 x 12 inches (45.7 x 30.5 cm). © City and County of Denver / ARS, New York. || #denver #abstractexpressionism #clyffordstill #downtowndenver A post shared by Clyfford Still Museum (@still_museum) on