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Artists Morris Louis
Morris Louis Photo

Morris Louis

American Painter

Movement: Color Field Painting

Born: November 28, 1912 - Baltimore, Maryland

Died: September 7, 1962 - Washington D.C.

Morris Louis Timeline

Quotes

"The more I paint the more I'm aware of a difference in my approach and others. Am distrustful of over-simplifications but nonetheless think that there is nothing very new in any period of art: what is true is that it is only something new for the painter & that this thin edge is what matters."
Morris Louis
"I suspect it is possible to relate every bit of abs. exp. to other art in a breakdown. It comes out new and different when art history is submerged and making a painting is a simple experience not precisely like any the artist had before."
Morris Louis

"As to the painting, I know that I'd have had a gallery long ago had it been in me to popularize my style. However, that is not the case, and so I have to play for big stakes in hopes that some highly reputable joint will handle the stuff some day."

Synopsis

Morris Louis became one of the leading figures of Color Field painting, along with his contemporaries Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler. In his short yet prolific career, most of which he spent in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Louis continually experimented with method and medium, manipulating large canvases in creative ways to control the flow and stain of his acrylic paints. His mature style, characterized by layered veils and rivulets of poured acrylic paint on untreated canvases, makes his paintings some of the most iconic works of Color Field Painting.

Key Ideas

In addition to using thinned acrylic paint to stain the weave of his canvas, as colleagues like Helen Frankenthaler and Jules Olitski also did, Louis went so far as to manipulate the canvas itself, folding and bending it to shape the flow of the paint. This innovation allowed him to eliminate his own touch upon the canvas, while still giving him a way to emphasize his medium's inherent fluidity and saturated colors.
Louis's paintings of the 1950s established a vital link between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting. He rejected the gestural abstraction of action painters like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, while also placing more emphasis on tonal relations and free-flowing color.
Rather than live in New York City as many of his contemporaries did, Louis based his career in his native Maryland and nearby Washington, D.C. In this way he expanded the geographical boundaries of the contemporary art world in America and brought attention to an offshoot of Color Field Painting later termed the Washington Color School.

Biography

Morris Louis Photo

Childhood

Morris Louis Bernstein was one of four sons born into a middle-class Jewish family in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912. His parents, Louis and Cecelia (Luckman) Bernstein, were Russian immigrants. Louis attended public schools in Baltimore and developed an early interest in art. At the age of 15, despite his parents' wishes he decided not to pursue medical studies and instead accepted a scholarship to the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts in 1927. During these early years as an artist, he was influenced by the paintings of Paul Cézanne and by visits to the Cone Collection of modern European art in Baltimore.

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Morris Louis Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Morris Louis
Interactive chart with Morris Louis's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Joan MiróJoan Miró
Arshile GorkyArshile Gorky
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock
Helen FrankenthalerHelen Frankenthaler

Personal Contacts

Kenneth NolandKenneth Noland
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg
Jack TworkovJack Tworkov

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Post-Painterly AbstractionPost-Painterly Abstraction
Washington Color SchoolWashington Color School

Influences on Artist
Morris Louis
Morris Louis
Years Worked: 1932 - 1962
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Frank StellaFrank Stella
Ellsworth KellyEllsworth Kelly

Personal Contacts

Kenneth NolandKenneth Noland
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg
Michael FriedMichael Fried

Movements

Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting
Post-Painterly AbstractionPost-Painterly Abstraction
Washington Color SchoolWashington Color School
MinimalismMinimalism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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