Monday, January 26, 2009

Abstract Still

1948-C, 1948
Clifford Still (1904-1980)
Oil on canvas
80 7/8 x 68 3/4 in. (205.4 x 174.6 cm)

Image: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

I'm very excited that the source of this image, online collections of the Hirshhorn provides all the information that you usually have to contact the registrar or library of the owning institution to find out. Provenance, Exhibition history and a bibliography (click on the title to see)

Someone mentioned Clifford Still to me lately and I decided that I need to revisit his work. I never jumped at the opportunity to see a Still, often glazing over galleries of his work in major museums but aware that there are often permanent dedicated galleries to his work if not galleries named after him. This particular work I came across (and may have seen on my one visit to the Hirshhorn) on a blog post. She used as a successful example of an abstract work to prove a point about a bad painting by a DC lobbyist using the same color scheme. While she doesn't say much about 1948-C, her brief criticism of the "bad" painting is telling and a pretty good jumping off point to looking at a more successful painting.

Many have heard people refer to many Modern paintings as something that "my kid could do" or my "kid did something just like that", you may have said something similar yourself. Much abstract Modern work can be very difficult to approach with open eyes, but the more time you take to look the more I believe viewers begin to see beyond the "style". Fall into the color and composition, balance. This is not to say that you'll love it, maybe you will, which would be awesome, but if you have any interest in broadening your level of appreciation, stop and spend a little time with a new abstract painting next time you get the chance. *Note, as we can see by the lobbyist's painting (which I wholeheartedly agree with sparkle pony is crap) not all work is going to be good and that bad work often makes it's way into museums.


johnh said...

Love this picture. ITs got everything going on, depth, color, motion; saw one of his works at MOMA recently and was really impressed.

A.L. said...

You inspired my choice today :). I really like this one a lot too.