Morris Louis (1912-1962)
Morris Louis (1912-1962)


Morris Louis (1912-1962)
signed and dated 'M. Louis '62' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
89 ½ x 20 ½ in. (227.3 x 52.1 cm.)
Painted in 1962.
André Emmerich Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1962
D. Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, New York, 1985, pp. 181 and 234-235, no. 535 (illustrated).
New York, André Emmerich Gallery, Morris Louis, October-November 1962, n.p. (illustrated).
Washington, D.C., American University Museum, Washington Art Matters: 1940s-1980s, June-August 2013.


By relying upon the intrinsic characteristics of his raw materials, Morris Louis conducts a symphony with the elements of the canvas, be it the rigid boundaries of the wooden stretcher, the weaves in the canvas' fabric, or the chromatic purity of each hue. In Prime, the artist not only makes reference but indeed calls attention to the essential values of the thin bands of saturated color that flow down the canvas. Never perfectly symmetrical but always rationally calculated, stripes from bright yellow to dark purple course down the composition side by side, isolated by the surrounding bare canvas. To the right, a field of organic colors, from golden and mustard oranges, to juniper, to wine, stain the canvas, allowing one to be swallowed whole by the rich tones. By drenching the canvas with a rich color palette and setting it against the still white background, Louis presents with clarity his obsession with color, producing a spiritual and incandescent tribute to color itself.

Throughout his career, Louis investigated the process of manipulating the canvas and pouring paint from different angles, using the support as a guide for the medium. Unlike Abstract Expressionists such as his contemporary Jackson Pollock, while his compositions bear no sign of the artist's hand, Louis systematically designed each economic yet rich stroke or gesture of paint. Close colleague, Kenneth Noland recalls, “We wanted the appearance to be the result of the process of making it—not necessarily to look like a gesture, but to be the result of real handling” (K. Noland quoted in Morris Louis: The Museum of Modern Art New York, exh. cat., Italy, 1986, p. 31). This vertically-oriented painting represents Louis’ earlier Stripe paintings, in which he relied upon the forces of gravity to dictate the visual direction of his compositions. As he continued to employ his pour method, he tested the pictorial impact on the viewer by eventually tipping the canvases on their sides. His fixation with liquidity and color culminates in his Stripe paintings, where more rational application and an interest in eradicating the hierarchy of the composition manifest themselves in full force. 

Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1912, Louis moved to New York City in his early twenties. At this time, he enrolled in the Experimental Workshop run by David Alfaros Siqueiros, a cooperative that had more of an impact on his unknown peer at the time, Jackson Pollock. His early years in New York served as a time for self-discovery, where he abbreviated his name and experimented with different forms of abstraction. By the 1950s, he had moved to Washington, D.C. and became associated with the Color Field painters such as Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler. For having succumbed to lung cancer nearly at age 50, Morris Louis produced a vast body of work, reflecting his obsession with the exploration of color, hue and liquidity. 

更多来自 战后及当代艺术(上午拍卖)