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Clyfford Still: The Artist’s Materials

Susan F. Lake and Barbara A. Ramsay

This groundbreaking book provides the first detailed account of the materials and techniques of perhaps the most radical—and, until now, least studied—major American Abstract Expressionist.

Among the most radical of the great American Abstract Expressionist painters, Clyfford Still has also long been among the least studied. Still severed ties with the commercial art world in the early 1950s, and his estate at the time of his death in 1980 comprised some 3,125 artworks—including more than 800 paintings—that were all but unknown to the art world. Susan F. Lake and Barbara A. Ramsay were granted access to this collection by the estate and by the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, which houses this immense corpus today.

This volume, based on the authors’ materials research project and enriched by their unprecedented access to Still’s artworks, paints, correspondence, studio records, and personal library, provides the first detailed account of the artist’s materials, working methods, and techniques. Initial chapters provide an engaging and erudite overview of Still’s life. Subsequent chapters trace the development of his visionary style, offer in-depth materials analysis of selected works from each decade of his career, and suggest new approaches to the care and conservation of his paintings. The richly illustrated narrative is complemented by a series of technical appendices and a full bibliography.

Susan F. Lake recently retired from her position as director of collection management and chief conservator at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Barbara A. Ramsay is chief conservator at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. She was the first conservator for the Clyfford Still and Patricia A. Still Estate.

“Reading this book will make you want to rush to the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, equipped with the wealth of knowledge the authors provide, to immerse yourself in the oeuvre of this formidable artist. For those who cannot do so, this richly illustrated volume offers a fantastic journey into Still’s singular life and work, with close-ups showing details of the paintings as if you were standing in front of them.”
—Marie-Claude Corbeil

176 pages
7 1/2 x 10 inches
100 color and 27 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-695-9

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Conservation Institute
Series: The Artist's Materials