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Morris Louis ( 1962 )

Collection item 1990.006.0006
  • Period Twentieth-Century
  • Materials Acrylic on canvas
  • Object Number 1990.006.0006
  • Dimensions 83 1/4 x 28 in.; 211.455 x 71.12 cm.
  • Credit Line Gift of Judith H. Miller, 1990

For Approach, D.C.-based artist Morris Louis worked from a ladder at the top of his stretcher where canvas was loosely attached. He directed matte and glossy colors in successive and overlapping layers, draining excess paint off of the bottom edge. The result is an array of transparent and opaque stripes, a form that he explored again and again. Irregular marks can be seen at the edge of the canvas, where paint dripped from its container. Louis initially thought to crop these marks, but famous art critic Clement Greenberg dissuaded him. The position of the stripe stack, slightly off-center, weighted at the bottom, was determined when the painting was stretched, and introduced the idea of asymmetry to this series, as well as emphasizing the active role of the unpainted canvas. When asked if his paintings had a distinct top or bottom, Louis replied: “It doesn’t matter.”