Obsessed with the theme of the fight between life and death, Still had given up a morbid figuration. He works the blazing colors of hell in an impasto laid on the canvas with a knife. His abstract art is a burst that produces a psychedelic glow. He alternately defined it as an explosion or as an implosion.
The black of death and the red of vitality are juxtaposed with a great violence until they reach a balance that will ever remain precarious, like a sheared curtain. The other colors are subsidiaries to these two key elements. In a powerful tendency of exacerbating the vertical, these abstract scenes often in large size can be observed from bottom up like a mystical painting by El Greco.
On November 16 in New York, Phillips sells an oil on canvas 140 x 106 cm painted circa 1948 or 1949, lot 9 estimated $ 12M.
This unnumbered opus escaped the large corpus of Still's work now kept in the Denver Museum because he presented it in 1951 to one of his best students. Before this friendly disposal the artist had reworked this painting to drown within the deep red a few bright spots that could contradict the force.
This creator has provided to his fellows and his competitors the basics of abstract expressionism. He covers like Pollock the surfaces that he considered as unachieved. He gets in the boundaries between the colored blocks a shredding illusion that anticipates Rothko. The Homeric struggles for vital power between the dominant elements anticipate the creations of the world by Barnett Newman.
SOLD for $ 13.7M including premium