Art’s Survivors of Hitler’s War

By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN
Published: November 30, 2010

BERLIN — The past still thrusts itself back into the headlines here, occasionally as an unexploded bomb turning up somewhere. Now it has reappeared as art.

Marg Moll’s “Dancer,” from around 1930, is one of the found works in the “Degenerate Art” show at the Neues Museum in Berlin.

Researchers learned the bust was a portrait by Edwin Scharff, a nearly forgotten German modernist, from around 1920. It seemed anomalous until August, when more sculpture emerged nearby: “Standing Girl” by Otto Baum, “Dancer” by Marg Moll and the remains of a head by Otto Freundlich. Excavators also rescued another fragment, a different head, belonging to Emy Roeder’s “Pregnant Woman.” October produced yet a further batch.

The 11 sculptures proved to be survivors of Hitler’s campaign against what the Nazis notoriously called “degenerate art.” Several works, records showed, were seized from German museums in the 1930s, paraded in the fateful “Degenerate Art” show, and in a couple of cases also exploited for a 1941 Nazi film, an anti-Semitic comedy lambasting modern art. They were last known to have been stored in the depot of the Reichspropagandaministerium, which organized the “Degenerate” show.

Then the sculptures vanished.

How they ended up underground near City Hall is still a mystery; it seems to involve an Oskar Schindler-like hero. Meanwhile a modest exhibition of the discoveries has been organized and recently opened at the Neues Museum, Berlin’s archaeological collection, the perfect site for these works.

Like the sculptures, the museum lately rose, all these years later, from the ruins of war. In the architect David Chipperfield’s ingenious, Humpty Dumpty-like reconstruction of the building, it has become a popular palimpsest of German history, bearing witness, via the evidence of the damage done to it, to a violence that not even time and several generations have been able to erase.

I can hardly express how moving this little show is, unexpectedly so. Its effect ends up being all out of proportion to the objects discovered, which are, in strictly aesthetic terms, fine but not remarkable. They are works of quasi-Cubism or Expressionism, mostly not much more than a foot high, several newly cleaned but still scarred, inspiring the obvious human analogy.

The poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Celan came up, in a different context, with the metaphor of bottles tossed into the ocean “at the shoreline of the heart,” now finally washed ashore. They’re like the dead, these sculptures, ever coming back to us, radiant ghosts.

In a country that for decades has been profoundly diligent at disclosing its own crimes and framing them in the context of history, it makes sense that the exhibition was installed to share a courtyard with Assyrian friezes from a long-ago regime that made an art of totalitarian rule and with an ancient frieze describing the eruption of Vesuvius, which preserved priceless objects, buried in the ash, that have found sanctuary in institutions like the Neues Museum.

Archeologists have so far determined that the recovered works must have come from 50 Königstrasse, across the street from City Hall. The building belonged to a Jewish woman, Edith Steinitz; several Jewish lawyers are listed as her tenants in 1939, but their names disappear from the record by 1942, when the house became property of the Reich. Among its subsequent occupants, German investigators now believe, the likeliest candidate to have hidden the art was Erhard Oewerdieck, a tax lawyer and escrow agent.

Oewerdieck is not widely known, but he is remembered at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel. In 1939, he and his wife gave money to a Jewish family to escape to Shanghai. He also hid an employee, Martin Lange, in his apartment. In 1941 he helped the historian Eugen Täubler and his wife flee to America, preserving part of Täubler’s library. And he stood by Wolfgang Abendroth too, a leftist and Nazi opponent, by writing him a job recommendation when that risked his own life.

The current theory is that when fire from Allied air raids in 1944 consumed 50 Königstrasse, the contents of Oewerdieck’s office fell through the floor, and then the building collapsed on top. Tests are being done on ash from the site for remains of incinerated paintings and wood sculptures. How the lost art came into Oewerdieck’s possession in the first place still isn’t clear.

But at least it’s now back on view. Scharff’s bust, of an actress named Anni Mewes, brings to mind Egyptian works in the Neues Museum. Karl Knappe’s “Hagar,” a bronze from 1923, twisted like knotted rope, has been left with its green patina of rust and rubble, making it almost impossible to decipher, save as evidence of its fate. On the other hand, Freundlich’s “Head,” from 1925, a work made of glazed terra cotta, gnarled like an old olive tree, loses little of its power for being broken. The Nazis seized the Freundlich from a museum in Hamburg in 1937, then six years later, in France, seized the artist and sent him to Majdanek, the concentration camp in Poland, where he was murdered on the day he arrived.

Across the street from the Neues Museum contemporary galleries showcase the sort of work the Nazis hoped to eradicate but that instead give Berlin its current identity as a capital of cool. This is a city that resembles the young masses who gravitate here: forever in a state of becoming, wary, unsure and unresolved, generally broke, but optimistic about the future, with the difference that Germany can’t escape its past.

Farther down the block the Deutsches Historisches Museum’s Hitler exhibition, today’s version of a “Degenerate” show, means to warn viewers about succumbing to what present German law declares morally reprehensible. How could any decent German have ever been taken in? the show asks.

From The New York Times

That happens to be the question the Nazis’ “Degenerate” show posed about modern art. Many more Germans visited that exhibition than the concurrent one of approved German art. Maybe Oewerdieck was among those who went to the modern show and saw these sculptures in it. In any case, today’s Germany has salvaged them and has organized this display. Redemption sometimes comes late and in small measures.

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William Baziotes – Abstract Expressionist

William Baziotes, was born in Pittsburgh June 11th, 1912.  His parents were Greek.  From 1931 to 1933 he worked at Case Glass company in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he was painting glass and running general errands.  He attended evening sketch classes and it was here that he met his lifelong friend Byron Vazakas, who was a poet.  Vazakas introduced Baziotes to the Symbolist poets and to Charles Baudelaire.  It was in 1931 that Baziotes saw the Henri Matisse exhibition at MoMA in New York and decided to move to New York to study painting. 

 

In 1936 Baziotes exhibited for the first time in a group showing at the Municipal Art gallery in New York and gained employment for the WPA as an art teacher at the Queens Museum. He met the Surrealist émigrés in New York in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and by 1940 knew Jimmy Ernst, Matta, and Gordon Onslow-Ford. He began to experiment with Surrealist automatism at this time. In 1941, Matta introduced Baziotes to Robert Motherwell, with whom he formed a close friendship. André Masson invited Baziotes to participate with Motherwell, David Hare, and others in the 1942 exhibition First Papers of Surrealism at the Whitelaw Reid Mansion in New York. In 1943, he took part in two group shows at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century, New York, where his first solo exhibition was held the following year. With Hare, Motherwell, and Mark Rothko, Baziotes founded the Subjects of the Artist school in New York in 1948. Over the next decade, Baziotes held a number of teaching positions in New York: at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and at New York University from 1949 to 1952; at the People’s Art Center, the Museum of Modern Art, from 1950 to 1952; and at Hunter College from 1952 to 1962. Baziotes died in New York on June 6, 1963. A memorial exhibition of his work was presented at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1965.

An Interview with Nan Goldin

Nan Goldin interviewed by Adam Mazur and Paulina Skirgajllo-Krajewska

If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what


Nan Goldin – Self-portrait red. Zurich. 2000
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm Matthew Marks Gallery

   

Your approach towards photography is very personal. Is not it a kind of therapy?

Yes, photography saved my life. Every time I go through something scary, traumatic, I survive by taking pictures.

You also help other people to survive. Memory about them does not disappear, because they are on your pictures.

Yes. It is about keeping a record of the lives I lost, so they cannot be completely obliterated from memory. My work is mostly about memory. It is very important to me that everybody that I have been close to in my life I make photographs of them. The people are gone, like Cookie, who is very important to me, but there is still a series of pictures showing how complex she was. Because these pictures are not about statistics, about showing people die, but it is all about individual lives. In the case of New York, most creative and freest souls in the city died. New York is not New York anymore. I’ve lost it and I miss it. They were dying because of AIDS.

You decided to leave the United States because of the effect the AIDS epidemic had on the community of New York gay artists and writers?

I left America in 1991 to Europe. I went to Berlin partially because of that, and partially because one of my best friends, Alf Bold, was dying and I stayed with him and took care of him. He had nobody to take care of him. I mean, he had lots of famous friends, but he had nobody to take care of him on a daily basis. He was one of people who invented the Berlin film festival. This was also the time when my Paris photo dealer Gilles died of AIDS. He had the most radical gallery in the city. He did not tell anybody in Europe that he has AIDS, because the attitude here was so different than in the United States. There was no ACT UP in Paris, and in 1993 it looked very much like in the US in the 1950s. Now it has changed, but at that time people in Europe told me: ‘Oh, we do not need ACT UP. We have very good hospitals’.

Your art is basically socially engaged…

It is very political. First, it is about gender politics. It is about what it is to be male, what it is to be female, what are gender roles… Especially The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is very much about gender politics, before there was such a word, before they taught it at the university. A friend of mine said I was born with a feminist heart. I decided at the age of five that there was nothing my brothers can do and I cannot do. I grew up that way. It was not like an act of decision that I was going to make a piece about gender politics. I made this slideshow about my life, about my past life. Later, I realized how political it was. It is structured this way so it talks about different couples, happy couples. For me, the major meaning of the slideshow is how you can become sexually addicted to somebody and that has absolutely nothing in common with love. It is about violence, about being in a category of men and women. It is constructed so that you see all different roles of women, then of children, the way children are brought up, and these roles, and then men, then it shows a lot of violence. That kind of violence the men play with. It goes to clubs, bars, it goes to prostitution as one of the options for women – prostitution or marriage. Then it goes back to the social scene, to married and re-married couples, couples having sex, it ends with twin graves.


Nan Goldin – Valerie and Gotscho embraced, Paris, 1999, Galerie Yvon Lambert


Nan Goldin – Clemens, Jens and Nicolas laughing at Le Pulp. Paris. 1999
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Clemens squeezing Jens’ nipples. Paris. 2001
183.00 x 122.00 x 2.50 cm Galerie Yvon Lambert

Nan Goldin – C. Z and Max on the beach. Truro. MA. 1976. 104.00 x 72.00 x 4.50 cm Matthew Marks Gallery Nan Goldin – Simon and Jessica kissing in my shower, Paris 2001, Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Valerie and Bruno in bed with blue blanket. Paris. 2001
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm. Matthew Marks Gallery

Could you please tell us something about the people, the artists who have influenced your art?

My biggest influences are my friends. Bruce was one of first persons that introduced me to slide shows in the 1970s. I started doing slide shows because I left school. During school I went to live in Provincetown, a gay resort three hours away from Boston. It is the farthest point in America’s east coast. It is beautiful. It is a little community of artists. Norman Mailer lives there. A lot of painters and writers live there. In the 1970s it was really wild with Waters, Cookie, Sharon, and Sharon’s son. It was incredibly wild. Later everything has completely changed. In Provincetown we used to live in small groups. I took lots of pictures of my friends, like “Bruce in the snow”. I’ve known Bruce since 1972. We lived together with Bruce, Sharon, and Cookie. I was at the School at the Museum of Fine Arts. Those days the school was that teachers sat in the parking lot and drank. Literally. This was before the 1980s. We were told that we will never make any money on art. Now, the students that I teach, at Yale particularly, all they want to know is what gallery they could have a show in or could I help them to get a show. They go right from the graduate school to the big galleries. It is all a career move. When I went to art school, I never heard of Artforum. Never. I took classes in Russian literature, in Faulkner, whom I love. I took writing classes, I took the history of film, I took drawing to be able to see better, because many photographers cannot see anything.

I actually became very influenced by Rothko. I love the work of Richard Todd, but I cannot say he was an influence. Anything that I see and I love is an influence, but I never try to replicate somebody else, like I never tried to make a Rothko. I love Caravaggio, but I never studied Caravaggio. I never made any Caravaggios. Some of my pictures of boys having sex, they have the same sense of light as Caravaggio. Caravaggio also knew all the people that he painted. They were his lovers or hustlers. Pasolini used boys from the street that he loved that he desired. Fassbinder only used people he knew. Cassavetes used the same people over and over, so I am not the first one to do that, but I think that people have forgotten how radical my work was in the 1980s, when I started, because nobody was doing work like that. Now, so many people have done work like that like Wolfgang Tillmans, Juergen Teller, Corinne Day Now people think I am just one of many who’ve done that. They do not understand that The Ballad of Sexual Dependency was so radical when it came out.

I was very influenced by film, because I did not go to high school. I went to the movies. Sometimes I went to the movies two or three times per day. I saw every movie from the 1940s and the 1950s. I saw every movie where all those goddesses were… Every movie with Marlena Dietrich, every movie with Bette Davies, every movie with Barbara Stanwyck, every movie with Marilyn Monroe. Then I saw an enormous amount of Italian movies with Antonioni, Pasolini, de SicaÉ I was very influenced by Cassavetes. When I am influenced, unlike many other contemporary photographers, I would never take a scene from the movie. I was very influenced by Fassbinder and Kie¦lowski. I saw his “Ten Commandments.” How do you pronounce his name? Yes, he is very important to me. Also Fassbinder was important. I saw all his works.

Did you make any movies?

Yes, I made two documentaries. “I’ll Be Your Mirror” was made with the BBC. It is about my life. The other was made with Joana and Aurele. It is about AIDS and it is called “Ballad at the Morgue.” He has AIDS and she does not. It is about a couple, about a relation of a couple, where one person is HIV-positive and the other is not. The film has only been shown in Turin.

What about music?

Yes, it is very important to me. Now, I am very influenced by Nick Cave. He saved my life, literally.


Nan Goldin – Volcano at dawn. Stromboli. ltaly. 1996
121,.50 x 182.50 x 2.50 cm Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Moss covered rocks. Iceland. 1999
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm. Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Villa Bovina. NY. New Year’s Day. 2001
121.50 x 182.50 x 2.50 cm. Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Simon laughing. Yvon’s house. Avignon. 2001
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm. Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – David wearing his hood on my street. Sag Harbor. 2001
72.00 xI 04.00 x 4.50 cm. Matthew Marks Gallery

You were one of the few photographers who started to take color pictures. How did it happen?

I accidentally used the roll of color film in my camera. I thought it is black and white, but it was color.

Unlike Egglestone and the other photographers using color, your pictures were discovered quite late.

Some people discovered my photography early. It was just very underground. It was very good what they taught us at the art school: that you have to suffer to be an artist; that you do not need material, financial success, but you have to be driven. A lot of great artists came out of my school from that period. Some of them are my friends like David Armstrong and Philip Lorca diCorcia. When I first started to take pictures of drag queens my influences were glamour magazines, fashion magazines. I like Horst, Cecil Beaton, and the early work of Newton, I like Guy Bourdin. I did not know about art photography. In 1974, I went to school and there was a teacher who showed me Larry Clark. It has entirely changed my work. I knew that there had been somebody else who had done their own life. You know his book Tulsa? I knew that were precedents for using one’s private experiences as art.

So you just switched from this glamour photography to this very personal approach?

No, I did not just switch. It was a long process of learning about the history of photography. He introduced me to August Sander, Weegee, Diane Arbus. The drag queens hated the work of Arbus. It was not allowed in the house, because they hated the way she photographed drag queens. She tried to strip them of their identity. She did not respect the way they wanted to be. Arbus is a genius, but her work is about herself. Every picture is about herself. It is never respecting the way the other person is. It is almost a psychotic need to try to find another identity, so I think that Arbus tries on the skin of other people. I have written a lot about Arbus.

Some critics find connections between you and Arbus. What do you think about such comparisons?

The daughter of Arbus thinks that there is no connection at all. I think there is some connection, because both of us have an unusual degree of empathy, but it is manifested in a different way. She was a photographic genius and I am not a photographic genius. My genius, if I have any, is in the slideshows, in the narratives. It is not in making perfect images. It is in the groupings of work. It is in relationships I have with other people.

Is it not connected with your fascination with literature? You mentioned Faulkner

Faulkner wrote about one tiny community and he wrote around 25 great novels and many short stories. They are always set in the place he loves. It has an invented name, but it is a real place. It is all based on what he knows. I always fought strongly against traditional documentary photography. It has changed, but in the 1970s it was always strong white men going to India, making exotic pictures of something they have no idea of. I always felt that I have right to photograph only my own tribe or people, when I travel, to whom I get close to and that I gave something to. I never took pictures with a long lens, it is always short and I have to get close to people I photograph.

What is the relation between the diary you write and the pictures you take?

Nothing. My diary is really boring.

Have you not tried to put together both diaries, textual and visual, and do something like Peter Beard?

No. I think these are two different things

Have you ever published parts of this diary?

No, I would never do this. I am writing it for myself and nobody else. My wish is to burn it immediately after my deathÉ

Some of your pictures are blurred. You did it on purpose?

Actually, I take blurred pictures, because I take pictures no matter what the light is. If I want to take a picture, I do not care if there is light or no light. If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what. Sometimes I use very low shutter speed and they come out blurred, but it was never an intention like David Armstrong started to do what we call, he and I, “Fuzzy-wuzzy landscapes.” He looked at the back of my pictures and studied them. He started to take pictures like them without people in them. They are just out of focus landscapes. He actually did it, intentionally threw the camera out of focus. I have never done it in my life. I take pictures like in here when there is no sun or light that I think all my pictures are going to be out of focus. Even Valerie and Bruno and whatever I take, because there is not enough light, and so I use a very low shutter speed. It used to be because I was drunk, but now I am not. The drugs influenced all my life. Both good and bad. I heard about an artist in Poland, Witkacy, who wrote down on his paintings all the drugs he was on. Depending how many drugs he took, that is how much he charged for the portrait. I saw his portrait at the National Museum, a kind of German expressionism, and I loved it.

I saw your pictures in the 50th anniversary issue of Aperture magazine. What shocked me most was the relation between them and the new Leica ad – this one with your hands holding the M7, very artistic and black and white – I never thought of your photography being as classic as Leica.

I always use Leica. Previously it was M6, and recently I work with M7 camera. I received one as a salary for this particular ad. However, I immediately lost it while photographing the “Valerie floating” series. I was swimming with her holding my camera in one hand and taking pictures at the same time. It was really difficult. The camera got broken, but the photographs were really worth the price.

How do you feel having these radical works being shown at the most prestigious museums?

In Paris, for instance, I had a choice between the Centre Pompidou, where all the people go, and the most beautiful museum in Paris, Musee de la Ville de Paris. I liked the women who worked at the museum, but I also loved the man who was taking over the Pompidou. I am very loyal to anybody who has helped me, especially before I was famous. Some told me that I should choose this beautiful museum, but I chose the Pompidou, because I wanted people to see it. To the beautiful museum go only artists and elites.

What are you going to do next? After the Devil’s Playground and the Matthew Marks show in New York?

I do not know. I never know. I think it is going to be something different, because I have been through hard times. We will see how the market will react to this, but I do not care about the art market at all. My dealers are becoming greedier and greedier. They start talking to me in this strange way saying “We will show this and this picture, because they are going to sell well.” I am worried about that they no longer even pretend to have any ideals. At least my American dealers.

Interview by Adam Mazur and Paulina Skirgajllo-Krajewska
13 February 2003, Warsaw
Proofreading: Simon Cygielski


Nan Goldin – The sky on the twilight of Philippine’s suicide. Winterthur. Switzerland. 1997
72.00 x 104.00 x 4.50 cm. Mathew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin – Fatima candles. Portugal. 1998
122.00 x 183.00 x 2.50 cm Galerie Yvon Lambert


Nan Goldin – At the bar: C. Toon and So, Bankok 1992, Matthew Marks Gallery


Nan Goldin, Self-portrait in hotel Baur au Lac, Zurich, 1998, Matthew Marks Gallery

Morris Louis

The American painter Morris Louis (Bernstein; 1912-1962) explored new realms of pictorial space with his series the “Veils”, the “Unfurleds”, and the “Stripes”. By exploiting the anonymous “stain” method, he formed a bridge between the Abstract Expressionists of the 1950s and the Minimalists of the 1960s.

Number 32

Morris Louis Bernstein was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1912. Unlike the more practical trades chosen by his three brothers, he applied for and won a four-year scholarship to the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts at the early age of 15. Although described by his friends as a loner, Louis was active in the local art community. In 1934 he participated in the creation of a mural in Baltimore entitled The History of the Written Word for the federal Public Works of Art Project and, in 1935, was elected president of the Baltimore Artists’ Union.

Addition V 

The following year Louis moved to New York City where he contributed to David Alfaro Siqueiros’ workshops. These workshops, so important to the future Abstract Expressionists, promoted the experimental use of modern tools such as spray guns, air-brush, and synthetic paints to express subjective ideas. It was also while in New York, in 1938, that he legally changed his name to Morris Louis. Although there are few paintings from this period, what is extant suggests an influence from the Mexican muralists Siqueiros and Diego Rivera and the German Expressionist Max Beckmann, whose work he is reported to have admired in the Museum of Modern Art.

Louis returned to Baltimore in the early 1940s and in 1947 married Marcella Siegel. Participating in the Maryland Artists’ exhibitions in 1948, 1949, and 1950, he began to gather a small following of local artists who in 1951 convinced him to be their instructor. His work between 1947 and 1953 displays many divergent influences, from the Cubist forms of Picasso to Futurist lines representing movement. In the Tranquilities series Louis showed an admiration for the solid forms of Robert Motherwell’s Elegies to the Spanish Republic. Most accomplished from this period is the Charred Journal series which represents his earlier interest in the amorphous forms of Joan Miro and also acknowledges the gestural painting of Jackson Pollock, with dripped paint placed spontaneously on a streaked background.

Gamma Ro 

In 1952, a pivotal year in his artistic career, Louis and his wife moved from the suburbs into Washington, DC, and Louis began to teach at the Washington Workshop Center of the Arts. It was here that he met and became fast friends with a colleague, Kenneth Noland. Noland, an artist who had studied in Paris and at Black Mountain College, was more conscious of the international art scene and broadened Louis’ awareness of contemporary artists. In April of 1953 the two artists traveled to New York City, where Noland introduced Louis to the influential critic Clement Greenberg, who henceforth would play a crucial role as supporter and guiding source of Louis’ career. Also of critical importance was Louis’ introduction to Helen Frankenthaler (by Greenberg) and his viewing of her painting Mountains and Sea (1952) in which she had explored the possibilities of staining thinned colors into bare canvas. Frankenthaler’s painting inspired Noland and Louis to monumental changes in their art.

Upon their return to Washington Noland and Louis worked closely together, often on the same canvas, in an attempt to eliminate old habits of painting – they called this joint venture “jam painting.” Louis’ work at this time reveals an interest in combining the gestural forms of the Abstract Expressionists with the newly discovered staining technique of Frankenthaler.

Addition 

The outcome of these experiments was Louis’ first set of masterpieces – the Veils. In this group, apparently begun in early 1954, Louis reconciled the conflict between his new found feeling for color and the importance he had always associated with drawing. By pouring acrylic paint (magna) over a canvas he created a brilliant stained color. The brilliance of the acrylic colors was diluted by thinning the paint or by covering the stained image with a “veil” of diluted black paint. Within this stained field of color Louis placed nonrepresentational linear arrangements, created by folding and manipulating the canvas.

Between 1954 and 1957, after this first Veil series, Louis returned to more gestural paintings where color and line appear to attack the canvas in a manner opposed to the serene use of color associated with the Veils. Unhappy with his results, Louis destroyed nearly three hundred paintings from these years (leaving less than ten) and in 1957 returned to the technique established with the 1954 Veils. He completed five distinct series of Veils during 1958 and the first part of 1959. In each series Louis took his earlier interest in the staining of the canvas and developed it more consistently with his concern for line. Contrary to the 1954 Veils, most of these canvases are unprimed, causing the color to thoroughly saturate the canvas and create an illusion of inner space. Louis drew attention back to the reality of the canvas as an object by referring to the surface of the color field with a distinct linear pattern.

In the summer of 1960 Louis began his next great series of paintings, the Unfurleds. Here he continued to show a stronger interest in line by using individual stripes of color that run down the unprimed horizontal canvas from the upper right corner toward the bottom center, leaving a large inverted triangular expanse of white in the center. The viewer is called upon to see both the pure color on either end and the white triangle in the middle. The result is a remarkably coherent composition. In these canvases Louis took advantage of an improved magna with a smoother consistency, allowing him to use his paints directly from the can. The undiluted paint produced purer hues and took on a new luminance.

The final series created by Louis before his untimely death were the Stripes. Concentrating once again on the purity of color, Louis both poured and used a swab to move the paint down the canvas. Slightly overlapping stripes of colors, sometimes not at all, run vertically down the canvas, creating images of pure color, which in many ways prefigure the more static and controlled “hardedged” colors of Kenneth Noland and Ellsworth Kelly.

In July of 1962 Louis was diagnosed as having lung cancer, and as a result his left lung was removed. The following months he continued to plan for an exhibition in New York City, but he was unable to paint again. He died on September 7. By the time of his death in 1962, Louis had had several one-man shows in both Washington and New York and had also exhibited in London, Paris, Milan, and Rome. His place in the history of modern painting was well established. His paintings can be seen in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; the Australian National Gallery in Canberra; and the Tate Gallery in London, as well as in many collections in the United States and throughout the world.