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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