See catalog of his work (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1979).
Still was born in 1904 in Grandin, North Dakota and spent his childhood in Spokane, Washington and Bow Island in southern Alberta, Canada. Although Abstract Expressionism is identified as a New York movement, Still's formative works were created during various teaching posts on the West Coast, first in Washington State at Washington State University (1935-41). His work of this period is marked by an expressive figurative style used in depictions of the people, buildings, tools and machinery characteristic of farm life. By the late 1930s, he began to simplify his forms as he moved from representational painting toward abstraction. In 1941 Still relocated to the San Francisco Bay area where, following work in various war industries, he became a highly influential professor at the California School of Fine Arts and what is now known as the San Francisco Art Institute. He taught there from 1946-1950 (with a break in the summer of 1948 when he returned to New York). It was during this time when Still "broke through" to his mature style. Still also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1943-45.
Still visited New York for extended stays in the late 1940s and became associated with two of the galleries that launched the new American art to the world — Peggy Guggenheim's The Art of This Century Gallery and the Betty Parsons gallery. He lived in New York for most of the 1950s, the height of Abstract Expressionism, but also a time when he became increasingly critical of the art world. In the early 1950s, Still severed ties with commercial galleries and in 1961 moved to Maryland, removing himself further from the art world. He remained in Maryland with his second wife, Patricia, until his death in 1980. In 1979, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the largest survey of Still's art to date and the largest presentation afforded by this institution to the work of a living artist. Following his death, all works that had not entered the public domain were sealed off from both public and scholarly view, closing off access to one of the most significant American painters of the 20th century.
Still was also considered one of the foremost Color Field painters - his non-figurative paintings are largely concerned with juxtaposing different colors and surfaces in a variety of formations. Unlike Mark Rothko or Barnett Newman who organized their colors in a relatively simple way (Rothko in the form of nebulous rectangles, Newman in thin lines on vast fields of color), Still's arrangements are less regular. His jagged flashes of color give the impression that one layer of color has been "torn" off the painting, revealing the colors underneath. Another point of departure with Newman and Rothko is the way the paint is laid on the canvas; while Rothko and Newman used fairly flat colors and relatively thin paint, Still uses a thick impasto, causing subtle variety and shades that shimmer across the painting surfaces. His large mature works recall natural forms and natural phenomena at its most intense and mysterious; ancient stalagnites, caverns, foliage, seen both in darkness and in light lend poetic richness and depth to his work. Among Still's well known paintings is 1957-D No. 1, 1957, (above), which is mainly black and yellow with patches of white and a small amount of red. These four colors, and variations on them (purples, dark blues) are predominant in his work, although there is a tendency for his paintings to use darker shades.
Allied Works Architecture, led by Brad Cloepfil, was selected to design the museum’s facilities. With offices in Portland, Oregon, and New York City, Allied Works Architecture has wide experience in the design of art museums.
Removed from public view for over twenty-five years, these works will finally be revealed at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, planned to open to the public in 2010. The Clyfford Still Museum is an independent nonprofit organization with its own website at
"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 together into a living spirit."
"It's intolerable to be stopped by a frames edge.
"I am not interested in illustrating my time. A man's "time" limits him, it does not truly liberate him. Our age - it is one of science, of mechanism, of power and death. I see no point in adding to its mechanism of power and death. I see no point in adding to its mammoth arrogrance the compliment of a graphic homage.
James T. Demetrion (Editor). Publisher: Yale University Press (June 1, 2001), ISBN 0300089694, ISBN 9780300089691
John P. O'Neill (Editor). Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (1979) ISBN 0-87099-213-9
Art handlers turn a 1949 painting by Clyfford Still after it is unrolled for the first time since the artist's family rolled it. Watching the process are art historian David Anfam, third from right in back, Frederick Schroeder, representing the Clyfford Still museum, and Sandra Still Campbell.(Home Front)
Jan 05, 2008; Caption: 1935 oil on canvas. INFOBOX Clyfford Still: a life * 1904: Born Nov. 30 in Grandin, N.D. * 1905: Family moves to...
CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM, CITY TO RECEIVE ARCHIVES, ARTWORK INSTITUTION WILL BE DEVOTED TO THE WORK, LIFE OF NOTED PAINTER.(News)
Oct 07, 2005; Byline: Mary Voelz Chandler, Rocky Mountain News The Clyfford Still Museum and city of Denver will receive the artist's archives...