September 20, 2007, to January 6, 2008
Morris Louis Now: An American Master Revisited was the first consideration of the Washington, DC–based artist’s work since 1986. The exhibition presented major paintings dating from the early 1950s until his death in late 1962, the years Louis developed an innovative method of painting by “staining” his unprimed canvases with thinned washes of acrylic pigments. The artist, who was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912, studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts. As a young man, he painted in a realist manner; only in his 40s did he find his signature style. Even in cramped quarters in Washington, Louis was able to make large paintings, achieving an exuberant, lyrical celebration of colors hovering in white space. Louis became an inspirational figure for other artists in the Color Field movement in the 1960s, notably Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler.
The exhibition was organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, in close collaboration with the artist’s widow, Marcella Louis Brenner, and independent scholar Diane Upright. The Hirshhorn’s presentation was coordinated by senior curator Valerie Fletcher. Coinciding with this exhibition were galleries devoted to recent research and conservation of Color Field paintings in the Hirshhorn’s collection. This exhibition was supported by Marcella Louis Brenner and by Harriet and Elliott Goldstein.
The presentation at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was made possible through the generous support of the Hirshhorn’s Board of Trustees and National Benefactors and donors to the Hirshhorn Exhibition Fund and Annual Circle.