description of PH-371 (1947-S) by Clyfford Still

This seven-foot tall abstract painting by Clyfford Still measures six feet wide; it is larger than a tall man with his arms spread. Its composition is dominated by two irregularly shaped forms, one black and the other red, which appear set against a lighter taupe-colored, unevenly painted field. The massive black form extends the full seven feet from the top to the bottom of the canvas, hugging the left edge for much of its journey. It calls to mind the rough coastline of a continent as seen from above. The smaller red form is anchored to the painting’s lower right corner, its left and upper edges equally rough and separated as if by a channel from the dominant black mass. Above the red form, a thin blue line slices through the taupe field on an angle, alternately emerging from and submerging in the background. Higher up, in one of the inlets created by the black mass’s ragged coast, two small islands of yellow float between one and two o’clock. It must be said that the taupe color reads as background, but with some effort it can be seen as a dynamic invasive force, tumbling down over the continental plates of the black and the red.

Clyfford Still, PH-371 (1947-S), 1947
Clyfford Still, PH-371 (1947-S), 1947; oil on canvas, 85 in. x 72 in. (215.9 cm x 182.88 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Gift of the artist; © City & County of Denver, Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Clyfford Still, PH-371 (1947-S), 1947

Artwork Info

Artwork title
PH-371 (1947-S)
Artist name
Clyfford Still
Date created
oil on canvas
85 in. x 72 in. (215.9 cm x 182.88 cm)
Date acquired
Collection SFMOMA
Gift of the artist
© City & County of Denver, Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
Artwork status
Not on view at this time.

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