Clyfford Still


American – 1904 – 1980

Artist Clyfford Still

Clyfford Still, by Erwin Blumenfeld © Yvette Blumenfeld Georges Deeton. Courtesy Art + Commerce

Clyfford Still was born in 1904 in North Dakota.  He would become one of America’s leading Abstract Expressionists by creating a new and innovative approach to painting.  The American art scene became an exciting place after World War II and Still played in integral part of the scene.

Making several trips to New York in the 1940s, Clyfford Still exhibited with prominent galleries, Art of This Century and The Betty Parsons Gallery.  Still and other Abstract Expressionists of the time, such as, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko, broke away from traditional methods of painting.  The work produced was intensely driven by abstract forms, expressive brushwork, and often monumental in scale.  A common goal among this group of artists was to express universal themes about life, confrontation, and death which had increased relevance during and after the war.

Clyfford Still had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Art and California Palace of the Legion of Honor,  Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania and Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York.   In 1979, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the largest survey of Still’s art to date.

He died in 1980.  In his will, he wrote “I give and bequeath all the remaining works of art executed by me in my collection to an American city that will agree to build or assign and maintain permanent quarters exclusively for these works of art and assure their physical survival with the explicit requirement that none of these works of art will be sold, given, or exchanged but are to be retained in the place described above exclusively assigned to them in perpetuity for exhibition and study.”   Upon his death, his wife sealed off approximately 2,400 works from public or scholarly viewing for more than 20 years.  In 2011, The Clyfford Still Museum opened in Denver, Colorado.


“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.”  – Clyfford Still