Clyfford Still (American, 1904–1980) was a painter associated with Abstract Expressionism and is best known for his Color Field paintings that resemble jagged, flame-like shapes. Born in Grandin, North Dakota, he studied at Spokane University in Washington, and earned his MFA from Washington State College. After experimenting with agrarian scenes and Surrealism, Still began working in abstraction. He developed a signature technique of applying thick layers of paint onto the canvas using a palette knife, and creating jagged areas of dark tones against lighter areas of yellows, oranges, and dark reds. His work was inspired by the harsh landscape of Canadian prairies, where he spent his early childhood. In 1944, Still moved to New York and began exhibiting alongside emerging Abstract painters such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Barnett Newman. From this period onward, Still’s titles are composed of dates and numbers, as in his 1944–N No.2. His later work often includes areas of bare canvas and horizontal compositions. Still eventually withdrew from the New York art scene, and began to restrict the lending and exhibition of his paintings. The majority of his work is currently held by the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado.

Timeline

1904
Born November 30, in Grandin, North Dakota
1926–1927
Studied at Spokane University, Washington
1931–1933
Studied at Spokane University, Washington
1935
Spent the summer at the Trask Foundation (now Yaddo), Saratoga Springs, NY
1936
Spent the summer at the Trask Foundation (now Yaddo), Saratoga Springs, NY
1933–1941
Taught at Washington State College, Pullman, WA
1945
Moved to New York, NY
1946
Moved to San Francisco, CA
1950
Taught at the California School of Fine Arts, San Fransisco, CA
1961
Moved to Westminster, MD
1980
Died in Baltimore, MD

Awards and Honors
Award of Merit for Painting, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1972
Skowhegan Medal for Painting
Became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1978

Exhibitions

2009
1945-1949 Repartir à zéro, comme si la peinture n’avait jamais existé," Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon
2008
Clyfford Still Unveiled, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO (solo)
Color as Field: American Painting 1950-1975, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN
Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940-1976: The Jewish Museum of New York, New York City, NY
Color as Field: American Painting, 1950–1975 - Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
2007
Color as Field: American Painting, 1950–1975 - Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
Modern American Masters: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CA
2006
Line and Surface: Works on Paper, Peter Blum Gallery - Soho, New York City, NY
2005
Clyfford Still Museum opens in Denver, Colorado
Clyfford Still: Paintings from the Collection, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
2004
Das MoMA in Berlin. Meisterwerke aus dem Museum of Modern Art, New York, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin
2003
The Heroic Century: The Museum of Modern Art Masterpieces, 200 Paintings & Sculpures, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX
In Pursuit of the Absolute, The Menil Collection, Houston, TX
2001
Clyfford Still: Paintings 1944-1960, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (solo)
2000
Clyfford Still: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (solo)
1998
The New York School, Gagosian Gallery, New York, NY
1994
Newman, Rothko, Still: Search for the Sublime, L&M Arts, New York, NY
1993
Azur, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris
1992
Kunsthalle, Basel (retrospective) (solo)
1990
Clyfford Still, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1980
Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (retrospective) (solo)
1959
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY (retrospective) (solo)
documenta 2, Documenta, Kassel
1951
Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1950
Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1947
Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Fransisco, CA (solo)
1946
Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
1943
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA (first solo exhibition)