[i]. Morris Louis was an American painter and an original member of the so-called Washington Color School. The two were “virtually inseparable companions,” according to Chet LaMore, an artist who knew them at the time. See “The Practice of Morris Louis,” pp. 16–21, 23). His widow, who once taught geography, believes that it reflects Louis’s interest in maps and, therefore, suggests that the grid lines could be interpreted as lines of latitude and longitude. Only then was he eligible for the WPA salary, which he would have collected in person each week. Louis’s figure, like all of Smith’s, is a totem intended to be perceived as a female. [This text is reproduced in its entirety from the following publication: Diane Upright. 161) color planes alone divide the image internally, a far more subtle division than that used in the triadic Veils. [xxxiv]. [xxvii]. The facial features were also conceived carefully, so much so that the sitter’s pensive expression comes to appear fixed. [lv]. He is as involved with the careful relation of hues, but his large works are more spontaneous. [18]. In so doing he turned to the surrealist technique of automatic drawing, which generated a wealth of suggestive biomorphic forms. But in their work the grid formed an integral part of the composition as it imposed order on the forms it circumscribed. Gorky was the first of them to create a major oeuvre from this synthesis; his death in 1948 was a particular loss for his contemporaries. The earlier of the two letters provides some insight into Louis’s attitude toward the art world after nearly six years in its midst. - Louis began to saturate his paintings in three major series: Veils (1954, 1958-59), Unfurleds (1960-61), and Stripes (1961-62). As a result, major changes in his painting often followed his exhibitions. Though perhaps not sufficient time in which to achieve a broad historical perspective, twenty years certainly provides distance enough to bring into focus Louis’s development and emergence as a major figure in the world of contemporary art. Louis had at least one other opportunity to see an original Pollock before his trip to New York in 1953. A school of non-conformists exists waiting for the next to negate it in turn. nos. During the preceding decade he had struggled repeatedly to strike a balance between forceful composition, vibrant color, and gestural drawing. Louis was neither an exceptional nor original painter during the first twenty years of his professional career. First spontaneously and then compulsively, Louis traced and retraced the major shapes in ink and colored pencil. Louis’s conflict obviously parallels in significant respects that of his 1963 audience, who would perhaps not have been so troubled by the apparent dichotomy in his paintings had they been aware of his previous work. [xxv] According to schedules established by Holger Cahill, in 1939 an artist on the Easel Project was expected to work 130 hours per month and to complete, for example, an oil painting sixteen by twenty inches or twenty by twenty-four inches, or two watercolors or gouaches during that period. 63] to the Jackson show, but the other paintings were all from 1955–57.) Although these pictures have been exhibited as vertical rectangles, they obviously were derived from such horizontal compositions as those of the Ambi series (cat. Early in 1961 Louis moved in a radically different direction. Despite Mr. Berge’s recollection, the resulting drawing does project a degree of specificity, notably in the contour of the face and chin, where Louis worked with particular care to achieve a satisfactory line. Only recently has the propagandistic fervor that accompanied the “triumph” of American painting begun to yield to a more balanced historical perspective. The visits to Florida, which began at that time, may also have provided an immediate stimulus. [v]. In 1959, four more sales gave Louis $2,450. The jury for the 1949 Maryland artists show, which included among its members James Johnson Sweeney and Jack Tworkov, awarded a prize to Louis’s Sub-Marine (1948; see p. 56), a picture he showed again later that year in the Corcoran Gallery’s “Annual Area Exhibition.” In the 1950 Baltimore Museum exhibition, Louis’s collage Nest won a prize designated “for a work in any medium showing original work in a modern direction.”. He was so satisfied with three of his four (known) collages that he included them in the Washington Workshop exhibition where they were titled Tranquilities I, II, and III. The “monadic” Veils share a more planar compositional continuity within the image (cat. During the period from 1947 to 1953 major exhibitions at the Phillips Collection included one-man shows of Pierre Bonnard and Karl Knaths (1952), Nicholas de Staël and Milton Avery (1953), and the Katherine Dreier collection (1953). Both the imagery and technique of most of Louis’s drawings reflect a sense of ease and well-being that suggest he viewed drawing as a time filler and not as a means for probing his innermost being. According to the recollections of his friends during this period, Louis shared with most artists and intellectuals of the 1930s a commitment to leftist causes. Exhibitions would continue at frequent intervals, including in 1967 the first retrospective to tour American museums, a show curated by Michael Fried, who published his major monograph on the artist in 1970. His companion is more readily interpreted, despite the curved shape at the juncture of arm and shoulder that suggests both armpit and shoulder blade. No evidence suggests that Louis, like Smith, Pollock, and other abstract expressionists, was interested in pictorial imagery that directly reflected the psychoanalytic theory or symbolism explored in the writings of Freud and Jung. Since few members of the New York art community would go out of their way to see the exhibition at Bennington College that included two Unfurleds, the series remained virtually unknown until 1963, when one Unfurled painting was included in Louis’s memorial exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. His masterful control of the pouring technique permitted him to retain the sensitivity of gestural handwriting on a monumental scale. In addition, the paintings project an interest in the primordial suggestiveness of the sea imagery that was also shared by the abstract expressionists. no. "Contrast" refers to the variation in levels of light in an artwork. Louis discovered in 1958 that the Veil concept could be expanded considerably beyond that “end” he perceived in 1954. Along with Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, and others, Louis pioneered the Color Field school of painting, using a technique of soaking heavy oil paints into unprimed canvases. Just as the Martha Jackson exhibition had signaled the end of one direction in Louis’s work, a major exhibition of twenty-three Veils—fourteen from 1958–59 together with nine from 1954—at French & Company in New York in April 1959 not only provided the first public exposure of the Veil series but also heralded its conclusion. In some, he created a limitless field by extending the color off the edge on all sides. 298), but now he explained to his dealer, “Since these [Stripe] pictures are similar to the 2 you had stretched but much better, would you not especially show the ones you have around.”[27]. The Charred Journal series of 1951 (cat. Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf, Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors, "We are creating images whose reality is self-evident and which are devoid of the props and crutches that evoke associations with outmoded images, both sublime and beautiful...The image we produce is the self-evident one of revelation, real and concrete, that can be understood by anyone who will look at it without the nostalgic glasses of history. Only after Louis’s death did any interest begin to emerge in his earlier paintings, a change spurred by his memorial exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1963. ... red blue and white riot photos. In all his work, Diebenkorn used the natural environment as his chief inspiration and applied soft, naturalistic color fields to the canvas. [6]. The compressed space, primitive rendering of figures, loose technique, and striking contrast of complementary colors of the gouache D497 appear to reflect his interest in such expressionists as Ernst Kirchner or Emil Nolde, as does a subject that may well be a brothel scene. We began to question a lot of what we’d done before and both tried to paint landscapes from nature [on the shore overlooking the Chesapeake Bay] as well as things in the studio.” Despite the hardships they endured neither artist would give up the resolve that had developed during the years at the Maryland Institute. I examined and photographed the panels of the mural on November 16, 1978. Perhaps the rubbery arms that encircle one stick figure in D492 had their origin in the pose of the quartet’s cellist. Four years later, when Dr. Claribel Cone died and her will was reported in the Baltimore Sun, it was evident that she was not convinced that Baltimoreans had yet broadened their view of art; she left her collection initially to her sister and eventually to the Baltimore Museum on the condition that “the spirit of appreciation of modern art in Baltimore should improve.” Upon Etta Cone’s death in 1949 the situation had changed sufficiently for her to bequeath the entire collection to the museum. He expressed his supreme dissatisfaction by destroying all of the paintings from 1955–57 still in his possession. no. He might have seen the one drawing from the same series that was acquired by the Société Anonyme during the 1930s. The clumsy masses and stiff, often awkward figures that populated Louis’s work in the 1930s and early 1940s began to be replaced about 1948 by both representational and abstract forms rendered with an increasingly assured and fluid line. Like the majority of works displayed there, many of the paintings in this exhibition depicted subjects with markedly socialist overtones. But the paintings by Pollock that are closest to Louis’s “Charred Journal” series are the black-and-white pictures, which were first exhibited as a group at the Betty Parsons Gallery late in 1951 and thus probably not known to Louis when his own series was painted. [19]. Fluctuating lines suggest a ventral fin, and short, thick lines across the body provide its markings. [vi] Schucker recalls that Louis, like his brothers, was “fairly tense, animated and very bright,” a heavy smoker, a loner who had no other close friends, and a man already totally committed to his art despite his family’s reservations. To make up for the deficiencies they perceived in their education, which included only one art appreciation course to supplement studio classes, Schucker and Louis went to the library. Although Rothko never considered himself a Color Field painter, his signature approach - balancing large portions of washed colors - matches up to critics' understanding of the style. Unless otherwise noted, the information about the period of the Louis-Schucker friendship comes from these sources. Louis conceived this figure so freely that both its sex and the direction of its pose are ambiguous; the anatomical distortions approximate those of Picasso’s bathers of about 1930, but their menacing tone is not present here. [16]. He was never drafted into military service and was apparently classified “4 F.” He moved back into his parents’ home, relied on financial support from his brothers, the youngest of whom he assisted in a small pharmaceutical business, and used the basement of the house for his studio. no. Louis’s situation contrasted markedly with that of his friend Kenneth Noland, whose paintings tended to be much smaller and could therefore be shown to advantage in the same galleries that represented Louis. The fish shape of D348 is similar, but the artist added a freehand grid and other marks including stars and the symbols for addition, subtraction, and number. By that time we were very knowledgeable, maybe not verbally, but knowledgeable in sensibility.

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