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Sarah Kopacz

IB Art
Modern Rebels Exhibit Analysis

Clyfford Still 1957-D No. 1 1957
GENERAL REFLECTION
My first response to this piece was an admiration for the colors used. Since I studied
the piece Jill by Frank Stella first, these colors are a nice refresher. The yellow used
is one of my favorite colors actually, which probably drew me to the piece in the
first place. I also really liked how it looks like cracks in a wall or different stalactites
and stalagmites. This piece makes me feel warm, but not in the sense of
temperature. The other piece by Stella made me feel a bit cooler, so I find it
interesting that this piece provokes a different response. I feel like the other piece
was more analytical and this one is more emotional. This piece reminds me of caves
and the different rock formations found in them. Modern Rebels was about artists
who changed the art scene and revolutionized it. Still was one of the first painters
who led the abstraction movement (The Art Story 1). He made art that didn’t have
obvious inspirations, which was odd, and his pieces are somewhat dramatic due to
size and color.
DESCRIPTION
Some images I can see are faux rips in the canvas, due to the color. The golden
streaks look like someone is trying to escape the work of art, it’s really cool looking.

Some colors used are the yellows, whites, blacks and a bit of red. Their contrasting
goes really well with the piece as a whole, and the opposites bring it all together.
This piece would probably be very interesting to run your hand over, because the
yellows look like they’d be super textured and the black looks super smooth. There’s
not much outstanding here, probably because the entire piece is at the same level
of outstanding. I really like how there are different tints and shades of all the colors
everywhere in the piece if you look hard enough, it adds depth. The black also looks
like it has its own darker shades inside of it, hinting at a deeper depth than
originally observed. The artist, like Stella, did a wonderful job utilizing the black
canvas and using contrast to bring his piece’s level of interestingness up. The art
was probably made by painting random splotches of yellow in some places, and
then painting the back background. It looks like the black in some places goes over
the yellow, which is why I think it was painted after the yellow. Some techniques I
see that I also really like are the gradients in the yellows, and possibly brushstrokes
at the edges of the colors. The artist’s viewpoint was most likely straight on, I can’t
imagine how else he’d make the stroke-like quality any other way. It also looks like
he might’ve flipped the canvas over a couple of times to get to certain areas more.
FORMAL RELATIONSHIP OF SHAPES AND IMAGES
The colors used in this piece are black, yellow, red and white. The shapes used are
the streaks of yellow and other warm colors across the canvas. The textures utilized
were the roughness of the colors, and the smoothness of the blacks. The lines used
were the borders of the colors on the black background. There is a very significant
negative area usage in this piece. The black compliments the yellow and brings it
out even more. The yellow parts seem to almost get bigger, like they’re expanding.
The rips and breaks of color in the canvas look like they want to get bigger so more
color and light can come through. The focus in this piece lies in the edges. The high
density of color and yellow on the edges makes the viewer want to look there
instead of the middle. This piece makes me feel happy and content. I feel like the
artist wanted the audience to view black as a warm color along with the yellow and
red in this piece, and make us think that black doesn’t always have to be cold and
unknowing. This piece is very abstract, ad there’s nothing very realistic about it.
CONTEXTUAL EXAMINATION AND RESEARCH

The artwork was made in 1957 and is on display in Buffalo, New York. The artist was
very secretive and closed off about his work. He disliked when people tried to
interpret his work because he felt like no one could fully understand it or even come
close to what he was trying to say. He also didn’t like his paintings isolated in a
gallery, he needed them to be understood as a set. Because of his aversion to
comments and evaluations of his art, not many formal critiques are out there.
Maybe since Still thought his pieces were his alone, he might have put a lot more of
himself in them, things that he might not have been ready to tell everyone or have
revealed about him yet to the public. Since he believed that no one would buy them
or put them on display, he made them more personal. Still intended to keep his
pieces away from critics and curators, due to his belief that no one would
understand the message behind the art. This piece seems timeless to me; I don’t
think it reflects its creation date at all. The style of this piece is considered to be
color field painting. It’s defined by its abstract nature, but also the vastness of the
canvases and the explosion of colors that almost engulf the viewer. Some similar
works by Still include 1948-C, and 1944-N No. 2.
INTERPRETATION
I feel like this piece has something to do with infinity. The black seems to expand
into the canvas for forever, and the yellow looks like light trying to break through. It
seems endless. This work also reminds me of caves. The total darkness aspect of it,
and also the yellows looking like rock formations all are signs that point me in that
direction. This piece also reminds me of being alone, but being content. I like the
current title of the piece, but if I renamed it I’d probably go with “Light in Darkness”
or something like that, due to the yellows and blacks.
EVALUATION
My feelings of admiration for this painting are still intact. I still thoroughly enjoy this
piece, and I want a poster of it in my room so bad. I might also have a little more
respect for the piece, considering all the things I know about it and the artist now. I
believe that this piece is very effective. This piece made me think and made me
want to study it, so I believe the artwork has done its job. I base this judgment on
whether or not the art made me feel anything in the first place, and if it kept my

attention throughout this research project and learning about it. This piece has met
all of this criteria and exceeded my expectations.
SOURCE
“Clyfford Still Biography, Art and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story. The Art Story
Foundation, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.