List of selected artworks. Maps for the tour in the museum



Clyfford Still (1904 – 1980)

7 april - 1 june, 1992
Sabatini Building, Floor 1

True to Clyfford Still's (Grandin, North Dakota, 1904 - Baltimore, Maryland, 1980) wish that his work be preserved and exhibited as a whole, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, USA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art house the most significant collections of his painting. This exhibition brings together an unprecedented ensemble of thirty five canvases from these two collections, enabling Still's work to be contemplated while unearthing his complex and maverick nature. Although disconnected from any influences and the exhibition and commercial circles forging Abstract Expressionism, around 1945 he becomes associated with Peggy Guggenheim and Betty Parsons, exhibiting in their respective galleries, and strikes up a friendship with Mark Rothko as well as forming relationships Robert Motherwell and Barnett Newman, among others. His stern and disciplined character is defined by the control he has over his work and its sales and over his participation in exhibitions and their respective catalogues.

Still's early work contains discernible figurative references, as seen in the Upright man (1934), and then gradually starts to distort the relationship between figure and ground, thus giving rise to a kind of abstract landscape. It is also worth noting that around 1937 he starts to denominate and order his pictures by year and number, just like a register - decades later he states how each of his works must be viewed as a diary entry. Therefore, his work must be understood as an enormous visual autobiography, substantiating the desire to preserve it as one whole ensemble.

From the forties onwards, his choice to do away with the easel in favour of large-scale canvases enables him to develop his mural-like paintings. One of the overriding characteristics is verticality, accentuated by blazing geological forms that traverse the pictorial space, with the colour fields acknowledged as fissures and crevices within a geological landscape, acting as energy fields with their explosive and spontaneous appearance. In this regard, 1954 becomes the paradigm for his work as he starts to portray underlying themes of nature - understood as an individual experience - and applies the romantic concept of the sublime.

The art critic Michael Auping talks about how: “Still was one of the first American painters of his generation to look at the reductive possibilities of monochromatic painting (…) and saw greater potential in the emotional effects of modulated colours”, as illustrated in his composition 1951-E. Black is generally his chosen colour, dominating his work in the late forties. In the fifties it is used as a positive and active force that reiterates the duality of black / white as light / dark, which in the sixties takes on a kind of malevolent darkness. Nevertheless, Still knows how to fully utilize background on his canvases, often leaving them untouched to bring out all the materic and chromatic elements.

Exhibition´s details

Organized by: 
Kunsthalle Basel
Thomas Kellein
Exhibition Tour: 

Kunsthalle, Basel (January 26 - March 22, 1992); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (June 19 - August 30, 1992); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, USA (January 15 - March 7, 1993); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (March 25 - June 13, 1993)


Current exhibitions

  • Exhibition view. Ree Morton. Be a Place, Place an Image, Imagine a Poem, 2015
    May 20 - September 28, 2015

    Ree Morton

    Be a Place, Place an Image, Imagine a Poem

  • Exhibition view. Carl Andre. Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010, 2015
    May 5 - October 12, 2015 Palacio de Velázquez. Parque del Retiro

    Carl Andre

    Sculpture as Place, 1958-2010

  • Vista de sala de la exposición. Federico Guzmán. Tuiza. Las culturas de la jaima, 2015
    April 16 – August 30, 2015

    Federico Guzmán

    Tuiza. The Cultures of the Bedouin Tent

  • Paul Klee. Baldgreis, 1922. Oil on cardboard, 40.3 x 37.4 cm. Kunstmuseum Basel © Kunstmuseum Basel
    March 18 - September 14, 2015

    White Fire

    The Kunstmuseum Basel Modern Collection

  • Pablo Picasso. Buveuse d’absinthe (The Absinthe Drinker), 1901. Oil on canvas, 81 x 60 cm. Im Obersteg Foundation, permanent loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel. Photography: Mark Gisler, Müllheim
    March 18 - September 14, 2015

    Collectionism and Modernity

    Two Case Studies: The Im Obersteg and Rudolf Staechelin Collections