This highly focused, small exhibition is the first of an ongoing series that closely explores select works in the collection, especially fresh discoveries. In this instance, the focus is on two of Clyfford Still’s earliest works, the first dating from 1920. This painting is a fledgling, imaginary Venetian scene (PH-662, 1920) in the style of J.M.W. Turner. The second is also a landscape, but in this case a fragmentary one—the canvas was cut down to accommodate a later portrait of Still’s grandmother on the other side. Still is captured executing the original scene in a rare CSM archival photograph, most likely dating from his time in Spokane, Washington (also on display).
Despite their modest size, the two paintings shed light on the origins of Still’s art and vision. On view in the Museum’s Hugh Grant and Merle Chambers Gallery, they are chronologically inserted into a new arrangement of more than 100 permanent collection highlights installed throughout the exhibition galleries. Along with their debut, the new permanent collection installation includes nearly 30 additional never-before-shown drawings and paintings. Two of these paintings are recent surprises—never documented by the artist—that were discovered during an inventory session.