1944-N No. 2
1944. Oil on canvas, 8' 8 1/4" x 7' 3 1/4" (264.5 x 221.4 cm)
In 1944-N, No. 2, an uneven background of black is interrupted by a few jagged fissures of red, yellow, and white. Still used a palette knife to apply the thick impasto onto an oversized canvas, resulting in an irregularly textured surface. The artist rejected any figurative interpretations of his work, claiming to remove any recognizable imagery: “I paint only myself, not nature.”1 In fact, he wanted to obliterate any connection to the European tradition of painting. “Pigment on canvas,” he wrote, “has a way of initiating conventional reactions. … Behind these reactions is a body of history matured into dogma, authority, tradition. The totalitarian hegemony of this tradition I despise, its presumptions I reject.”2
1. The range of colors used by an artist in making a work of art; 2. A thin wooden or plastic board on which an artist holds and mixes paint.
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
Cotton or linen woven cloth used as a surface for painting.
An Italian word for “paste” or “mixture”, used to describe a painting technique where paint (usually oil) is thickly laid on a surface, so that the texture of brush- or palette-knife strokes are clearly visible.
Representing a form or figure in art that retains clear ties to the real world.
Clyfford Still generally used a system of numbers, years, and letters to identify his works, convinced that titles manipulated the viewing experience. He stated, “The pictures are to be without titles of any kind. I want no allusions to interfere with or assist the spectator. Before them I want him to be on his own, and if he finds in them an imagery unkind or unpleasant or evil, let him look to the state of his own soul.”3