Clyfford Still (November 30, 1904 – June 23, 1980) was an American unconventional ‘Abstract Expressionist’ painter of high repute. ‘Abstract Expressionism’ was an American art movement, developed after the Second World War. Very versatile Clyfford Still always tried different portrayals, ‘expressing’ the themes of existence, death, struggle, and creation, which were more a reality bite of nature. His painting style was different and unique, with an assembly of wide range of colors in different and irregular patterns. In effect, all the layers of paints would look ragged. “1957-D No. 1” was the most phenomenal work by Clyfford Still.
Created in 1957, “1957-D No. 1″ is an oil on canvas work, sized 113″ X 159”. In this painting, Clyfford used black and yellow colors having white patches, with a very little amount of red. These four colors have been used as base, topped with many variations of different colors, largely deep blue and purple, on them. Thick and textural paints have been put in vertical and several uneven layers of colors, imparting ‘Abstraction’ to it. Though, Still well tried diverse palette, generally however, he used dark shades in his paintings. Clyfford’s most famous painting, “1957-D No. 1,” vouches for his this ‘dark’ inclination, with a distinct use of black with ‘not so deep’ yellow.
Art though is supposed to be a bias less freedom of expression, yet ‘free of bias’ is a proposition that often fails. An artist may paint freely, but viewers do develop a view about the work. In addition, with a variety of viewers having different beliefs, their perceptions on an artwork differ too. Still’s “1957-D No. 1” had to go through the same test of fate, where different viewers formed varied opinions about it, as per their understanding. The critics upset Clyfford due to their never-ending search for the meaning of the painting. Being a true artist, Still believed that his every work is inspired from personal experience, and are far from interpretations. Viewers should just admire an art piece, if they can. The works should definitely not be scrutinized to recover something that artists do not intend to surface. Each work is personal to an artist and deserves a respectable treatment to its dignified silence. Still said, “Each painting is an episode in a personal history, an entry in a journal, and my work in its entirety is like a symphony in which each painting has its part.”
Irrespective of the opinion of critics, Clyfford Still has always been phenomenal. With his death, unique and different styles of ‘Abstract Expressionism,’ received a dent. With his paintings, including “1957-D No. 1” still vouching for his competence, Clyfford Still will always be a forceful inspiration for ‘Abstract Expressionists.’