In the fall of 1961 Morris Louis abruptly stopped painting his series of Unfurleds (1960-61)—monumental works marked by banked rivulets of pure color bounding an expanse of bare white canvas—and began painting Stripe paintings. Number 182 is an early work in Louis’s third and final series, in which he revived his 1960 experiments with vertical bands of pure color called Italian Veils, Columns, and Twined Columns.
Louis and his Washington Color School colleagues were concerned primarily with color and the visual effects of color relationships. By eliminating the trademark gesture of the abstract expressionists, they were able to assign color a preeminent role. Many of them, including Gene Davis and Kenneth Noland, explored the potential for color in the format of the stripe, but in his Stripe paintings, Louis created vertical bands of color abutting and overlapping each other to form a pillar of contained energy.