Still was a "color field" painter, largely concerned with arranging colors in a variety of formations. Mark Rothko organized his colors in a series of nebulous rectangles, but Still's arrangements looked like jagged flashes of color, giving the impression that one layer of color had been torn from the painting, revealing the colors underneath.
He was born in Grandin, North Dakota, but he spent much of his childhood in Spokane, Washington. He attended the Arts Students League in New York in 1925, attended Spokane University from 1926 to 1927 and returned in 1931 with a teaching fellow, graduating in 1933. He taught at Washington State College, Pullman, where he received his M.F.A. in 1935.
He moved to San Francisco in 1941 and had his first one-man show at the San Francisco Museum of Art (now SFMOMA). In 1943 he met Mark Rothko and then taught at Virginia Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) before moving to New York in 1945, where he lived through most of the 1950s. Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who gave him a solo show at her Art of this Century Gallery in 1946. During the 1950s, at the height of Abstract Expressionism, he became very critical of the art world and severed ties with commercial galleries. In 1961 he moved to Maryland, where he lived until his death in 1980.
After his death, his works were sealed from public scholarly access, but in 2003, his widow began to worry that there might be a fire in the warehouse where they were stored, so she released the 825 paintings and 1575 works on paper, valued at $850,000,000. They are now housed in The Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado.
From clyffordstillmuseum.org, phaidon.com, phillipscollection.org and facebook.com/pages/The-Clyfford-Still-House
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