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Artists Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still Photo

Clyfford Still

American Painter

Movement: Abstract Expressionism

Born: November 30, 1904 - Grandin, North Dakota

Died: June 23, 1980 - Baltimore, Maryland

Clyfford Still Timeline

Quotes

"I'm not interested in illustrating my time. A man's 'time' limits him, it does not truly liberate him. Our age - it is of science - of mechanism - of power and death. I see no virtue in adding to its mammoth arrogance the compliment of graphic homage."
Clyfford Still
"I never wanted color to be color. I never wanted texture to be texture, or images to become shapes. I wanted them all to fuse into a living spirit."
Clyfford Still
"My work is not influenced by anybody."
Clyfford Still
"As before, the pictures are to be without titles of any kind. I want no allusions to interfere with or assist the spectator. Before them I want him to be on his own, and if he finds in them an imagery unkind or unpleasant or evil, let him look to the state of his own soul."
Clyfford Still
"You can turn the lights out. The paintings will carry their own fire."
Clyfford Still
"It's intolerable to be stopped by a frame's edge."
Clyfford Still

"These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union. As for me, they kindle a fire; through them I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation."

Synopsis

Although not as widely known as some of his New York School contemporaries, Clyfford Still was the first to break through to a new and radically abstract style devoid of obvious subject matter. His mature pictures employ great fields of color to evoke dramatic conflicts between man and nature taking place on a monumental scale. "These are not paintings in the usual sense," he once said, "they are life and death merging in fearful union.. they kindle a fire; through them I breathe again, hold a golden cord, find my own revelation." A believer in art's moral value in a disorienting modern world, Still would go on to influence a second generation of Color Field painters.

Key Ideas

Still's overriding theme is the existential struggle of the human spirit against the forces of nature, a notion that finds expression in the vertical forms that reach defiantly through the majority of his compositions, and a struggle he evoked in his phrase "the vertical necessity of life."
His expansive fields of color have sometimes been likened to caves or vast abysses momentarily illuminated by crackling flares of light.
Still's progression to purely abstract painting in the mid-1940s predated and influenced a similar move to non-representational art by his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries.
Still was a notoriously difficult character who often shunned the New York art world, resisted most critiques of his work and went to exceptional lengths to control how his paintings were sold, collected and exhibited.

Biography

Clyfford Still Photo

Childhood

Born in Grandin, North Dakota, in 1904, Clyfford Still spent his formative years in Spokane, Washington and in Alberta, Canada, where his family maintained a wheat ranch in what was then the last outpost of the North American frontier. Though he later denied its significance, the vast, flat landscape and harsh lifestyle of the Canadian prairie would exert a lasting influence on his worldview and artistic practice.

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Clyfford Still Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

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

Artists

Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
William BlakeWilliam Blake

Personal Contacts

Jane Ellen HarrisonJane Ellen Harrison
Sir James FrazerSir James Frazer
Friedrich NietzscheFriedrich Nietzsche

Movements

CubismCubism
SurrealismSurrealism
American RegionalismAmerican Regionalism

Influences on Artist
Clyfford Still
Clyfford Still
Years Worked: 1933 - 1980
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Barnett NewmanBarnett Newman

Personal Contacts

Mark RothkoMark Rothko
Alfonso OssorioAlfonso Ossorio
Jackson PollockJackson Pollock

Movements

Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Washington Color SchoolWashington Color School

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Content compiled and written by David Kupperberg

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by David Kupperberg
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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