Sunday, 13 January 2013

Morris Louis

Morris Louis was only 49 when he died in '62. When he died he left 422 paintings, which he did in the kitchen while his wife was out, rolled up in the house, 230 of which he painted in his mature 'great' period in just 16 months. He was a bit secretive about his painting, and you wont find many quotes by him even on the web; perhaps because even he thought he was mad, or just shy, as he pioneered the 'post painterly abstraction' that would make him, posthumously, a genius. It is remarkable he 'painted' them in the kitchen, for some of them are very large indeed. His methods are also largely secret but involved (clearly) soaking, daubing, rubbing, dragging and folding. He didn't sell many of his paintings at the time, he taught art in college, which must prove he just loved doing them for doing them's sake no matter how awkward the circumstances. And he didn't live in New York, but the relative backwater of Washington DC. Other people made him famous.
The one thing unsurprising about Morris Louis is that he died of lung cancer brought on by paint fumes. The most his wife might have known as she returned to the tidied kitchen was the lingering smell.
Anybody could do it, well yes, anybody could, but they couldn't could they.  

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