If you want to show people Clyfford Stills online, there’s really only one place to go: SFMOMA’s website. (The Met’s site is down and its Stills are mediocre, the Albright-Knox’s dozens of Stills are reduced to tiny JPEGs and the Hirshhorn’s collection site is unusable even when it’s usable. And it’s been down for days.)
One of SFMOMA’s best Stills is a painting that illustrates something abstract expressionism and Still expert David Anfam and I talked about on this week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast: The way Still worked through the figure on the way to abstraction. This untitled 1945 Still (above, detail) was once called Self-Portrait, and features a vaguely figurative shape on the left (this JPEG shows the ‘head’ in the upper-left of the painting) and a palette and what seems like an abstraction of the artist’s hand on the right. Until Anfam’s most recent research, it was the most important, most widely known example of Still moving from the figure toward abstraction.
Anfam is the first guest on this week’s show. In recent years Anfam has been working with the Still Museum on its collections and installations. He is also the author of the catalogue raisonnes of Mark Rothko’s paintings and Conrad Marca-Relli. The museum has also just published “Clyfford Still: The Artist’s Museum,” which features a major essay by Anfam on Still’s life and work. (Amazon offers the book for $25 off.)