Clyfford Still’s paintings have been compared to bodies or living organisms. In PH-266 (1949-M), Still’s use of color gives the impression that the jagged salmon, burgundy, and fawn-colored forms have only revealed themselves after a painstaking process of tearing and violent rupture.
While Still dismissed such figurative readings of his painting, he believed they each possessed an inner life or spark. In a letter written after his 1959 exhibition in Buffalo, Still recalled, “One problem we had was the tendency of the museum people to over-light all of my paints. . . . my last instruction to [museum director] Mr. Smith was, ‘You can turn the lights out. The paintings will carry their own fire.’”
Label from Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford, May 26–October 2, 2016