Morris Louis
VAV 1960

Artwork details

Morris Louis 1912–1962
Date 1960
Medium Acrylic paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 2603 x 3594 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mr and Mrs H.J. Heinz II through the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1968
Not on display

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In 1953 Louis visited Helen Frankenthaler's studio and was impressed by her experiments with staining the canvas rather than painting on it. He developed this technique in works such as VAV. One of his so-called 'veil' paintings, it was made by pouring very liquid paint down its surface. In applying paint in this way Louis was reacting against Abstract Expressionist painters such as de Kooning and Kline. They had emphasised gestural brushwork as a means of personal expression. By pouring paint, Louis sought to exclude expression because the artist no longer directly controlled the marks which resulted. Also, the stained canvas no longer 'bore' a representative image. Instead it became an object in itself.

September 2004

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