Morris Louis



Not on display

Morris Louis 1912–1962
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 445 × 2597 mm
frame: 478 × 2628 × 46 mm
Presented by Leslie Waddington 1966

Display caption

Louis died in 1962. In his final phase of activity he extended the pouring technique developed in 'VAV' and 'Alpha-Phi' (both in this room). 'Partition' belongs to the 'stripes' series, executed shortly before Louis's death. In these works Louis allowed rivulets of colour to run in parallel 'open-ended' lines. This rigid parallel arrangement is an even more radical attempt to extinguish all traces of 'expressiveness'. The insistence on the lack of a representational image is also demonstrated by Louis's willingness for this painting to be hung either vertically or horizontally. The inertia of the image, and its denial of any meaning, both assert the prime importance of the painting's surface qualities.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Morris Louis 1912-1962

T00803 Partition 1962

Inscribed 'PARTITION | M. Louis 62' on back of canvas
Magna acrylic on canvas, 17 1/2 x 102 1/4 (44.5 x 259.5)
Presented by Leslie Waddington 1966
Prov: Leslie Waddington, London (purchased from the artist's estate through the André Emmerich Gallery, New York)

André Emmerich wrote (22 March 1966): 'The painting must have been painted during March or April of 1962, during the last period of Morris Louis' work ... he was operated on for cancer in July of that year and died in August.

'The painting is one of a very few "narrow stripe" paintings which are "open ended" on both ends of the stripes. These pictures were intended by Morris Louis to be seen either vertically (with one or the other end at the top), or horizontally. However, Morris Louis always preferred the horizontal position for these pictures.'

There are arrows on the stretcher with the word 'TOP' pointing in two different directions (at right angles). Mr Emmerich explains that the arrows were not put there by Louis himself, but by others, to indicate the fact that Louis felt the picture could be hung either as a vertical or as a horizontal.

Published in:
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, p.457, reproduced p.457

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