Albright Art Gallery Director Gordon M. Smith first visited Clyfford Still’s New York studio in 1954, and a few years later, with Seymour H. Knox, Jr.’s support, he acquired PH-49 (1954), 1954, for the museum’s collection. This first meeting eventually led Smith to invite Still to organize his own large-scale survey, the artist’s first, at the museum in 1959.
Smith and Still spent nearly two years planning the exhibition, negotiating details over the course of their extensive correspondence and through a series of personal meetings. Still visited Buffalo several times during this period in order to make preliminary plans for the exhibition's organization. He then oversaw the exhibition's final installation, personally supervising the lighting and hanging of his works. The exhibition attracted extensive local, nation, and international coverage.