Prominent Abstract Expressionist painter, Clyfford Still spent his entire artistic career drawing and experimenting with different printing techniques, in addition to producing the large-scale oil paintings for which he is best known. His drawings held a particularly personal and privileged position for Still, and were only shown twice in exhibition during his lifetime; he once called his pastel drawings “a visual diary of a personal world.” Rather than sketches for larger paintings, Still’s drawings constitute fully realized works in their own right, and provide a window into his working process.

Clyfford Still (American, 1904-1980), PH-491, oil on paper $50,000-80,000; © 2020 City & County of Denver, Courtesy Clyfford Still Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

PH-491 is one of nearly one hundred oils on paper from a prolific period of Still’s life, while he held a professorship at the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University). Not a formal “series,” the works from this 1943-45 period display a diversity in composition, as the artist shifts back and forth between representational and abstract forms, leaving traces of the figure, landscape and nature as he experiments with abstraction. PH-491 shows Still’s deliberate brushstrokes and extended undulating lines as he explored the interplay of paint and white space.

Still’s drawings were meticulously archived and stored by the artist, and later by his widow Patricia Still, and were eventually donated to the Clyfford Still Museum, which she helped found in Denver, Colorado before her death in 2005. The work was a gift from Mrs. Still to her long-time attorney and his wife, jointly, as noted in Mrs. Still's hand-written letter of gift. Freeman’s is pleased to offer this rare opportunity to acquire an important Clyfford Still drawing coming to the market for the first time.


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