T01058 Alpha-Phi 1961
Inscribed under turnover of canvas 'M. Louis | 359' (probably not by the artist)
Magna acrylic on canvas, 102 x 180 3/4 (259 x 459)
Presented by Mrs Marcella Louis Brenner through the American Federation of Arts 1968
Repr: Ronald Alley, Recent American Art (London 1969), pl.13; The Tate Gallery (London 1969), p.186 in colour
One of the series of pictures known as 'unfurleds' which was painted after the series of 'veils' and before Morris Louis turned to painting regular parallel stripes of pure colour. The unfurleds are characterised by irregular diagonal rivulets of pure colour across the bottom corners, with the centre of the canvas left blank.
On the way these pictures were titled see the note on 'Vav' [T01057]. The use of Greek letters had the precedent of the pictures which had been titled 'Alpha' and 'Delta' by the artist during his lifetime: both were pictures of the unfurled type.
'Alpha-Phi' was never exhibited prior to its acquisition by the Tate and, like many of Louis' pictures, remained unstretched until some years after his death.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.456-7, reproduced p.456