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Untitled

Clyfford Still1964

Guggenheim Bilbao

Guggenheim Bilbao
Bilbao, Spain

Clyfford Still’s expansive canvases dominated by jagged fields of color were influential among the Abstract Expressionists, in particular Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, who shared his interest in the metaphysical sublime. Rather than capture a realistic representation of the world in his abstract paintings, Still sought to create a transcendental experience that was purely visual and impossible to describe with words. Still espoused what he regarded as particularly American ideals, such as absolute freedom and individuality, which were manifested in his artistic career as well as in his works. He disdained the commercial aspects of the art world and became increasingly aloof from the burgeoning New York School, to the point of refusing to exhibit for a period between 1952 and 1958. Untitled was created after Still left New York permanently for the isolation of a farm in rural Maryland in 1961. The work is notable for its prominent bare canvas, which imbues it with an overall luminosity, as well as its insistent verticality—the 2.5-meter-high red line as well as the ocher forms seem to thrust upward and break the bounds of any enclosing strictures.

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