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, white, and green. 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
A representation of a person or thing in a work of art.
A work of art made from paint applied to canvas, wood, paper, or another support (noun).
A closely woven, sturdy cloth of hemp, cotton, linen, or a similar fiber, frequently stretched over a frame and used as a surface for painting.
An Italian word for “mixture,” used to describe a painting technique wherein paint is thickly laid on a surface, so that brushstrokes or palette knife marks are visible.
A substance, usually finely powdered, that produces the color of any medium. When mixed with oil, water, or another fluid, it becomes paint.
Representing a form or figure in art that retains clear ties to the real world.
The area of an artwork that appears farthest away from the viewer; also, the area against which a figure or scene is placed.
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