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Morris Louis

Morris Louis , (28 November 1912 – 7 September 1962) was an American painter.

During the 1950s he became one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting.  Living in Washington, DC. Louis, along with Kenneth Noland and other Washington painters formed an art movement that is known today as the Washington Color School.  From 1929 to 1933, he studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts on a scholarship, but left shortly before completing the program. From 1936 to 1940, he lived in New York and worked in the easel division of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project. During this period, he knew Arshile Gorky, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jack Tworkov.

In 1948, he pioneered the use of Magna paint – a newly developed oil based acrylic paint made for him by his friends, New York City paintmakers Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden.  During the 1950s he and a group of artists that included Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Tom Downing, Howard Mehring and Anne Truitt, among others were central to the development of Color Field painting. The basic point about Louis’s work and that of other Color Field painters, sometimes known as the Washington Color School in contrast to most of the other new approaches of the late 1950s and early 1960s, is that they greatly simplified the idea of what constitutes the look of a finished painting. They continued in a tradition of painting exemplified by Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and Ad Reinhardt. Eliminating gestural, compositional drawing in favor of large areas of raw canvas, solid planes of thinned and fluid paint, utilizing an expressive and psychological use of flat, and intense color and allover, repetitive composition. One of Louis’s most important series of Color Field paintings were his Unfurleds.

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