Clyfford Still is an American artist, founder and one of the most prominent representatives of Abstract Expressionism. Clifford Still was one of the first in the country who began to paint on huge canvases, chaotically, as if without any purpose or meaning, covering them with dense layers of paint. His most famous works are pure emotions, without the slightest resemblance to any objects and geometric shapes.
Still applied the paint in large, voluminous strokes. In his paintings, piercingly bright yellow and red shades seem to break out from under the layers of black and dark blue, roughly appear under the seemingly torn parts. They are lively, dynamic, impressive in scale and open their meaning for every true connoisseur of painting. Today, more than 95% of the author’s works are in the Denver Museum, built specifically for their storage and display.
Biography of Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still was born on November 30, 1904 in the small American town of Grandin with a population of several hundred people, in the family of a farmer. He spent his childhood in Spokane, and this is all that is known about the first two decades of his life. At the age of 20, the young man came to New York to study art: he wandered around the city, visited a couple of galleries, but was not at all impressed with the works of local masters. Enrolled in the Student Arts League and left the first lesson, without having been on it for an hour. Just a couple of weeks later, a frustrated Clifford left New York and headed back West.
From 1926 to 1933 he spent at Spokane University, studied painting, literature and philosophy. He became a master of fine arts, got a job as a teacher at Washington State College. Here he worked for 6 years, without stopping to paint along the way. Works from the time include rural landscapes, farmhouses, Indian reservations, and fuzzy, blurry human figures. Although the paintings of this period in their subjects do not at all resemble the large abstract masterpieces that made him famous, they still traced the master’s style – dark colors, “torn” by bright shades, large volumetric strokes applied with a palette knife.
During the Second World War, the artist briefly worked in the military industry, after that he taught again, held personal exhibitions.
His mature, recognizable style was finally formed by the end of the 1940s.
In the 1950s, Clifford Still lived in New York, periodically participated in exhibitions, but became increasingly disillusioned with the noisy life of the big city. He wanted to exhibit only where he could completely control everything – from lighting to the height of the placement of paintings. In 1961, the master said goodbye to New York forever and went to live on a farm in Maryland, spending the remaining years of his life in silence and work, only occasionally showing his paintings to select viewers.
The painter was married twice – marriage with Lillian Battan (Lillian August Battan) lasted about 10 years, the couple had two daughters. In 1957, Clifford Still married a student, Patricia Alice Garske, and lived with her until the end of his days. He died on June 23, 1980. All works – more than 3000 canvases, drawings and sculptures – were bequeathed to the city, which will build a worthy museum for them. Denver became that city in 2004.