Morris Louis

Alternative Name(s): Morris Louis Bernstein
Date of Birth: November 28, 1912
Place of Birth: Baltimore, USA
Date of Death: September 7, 1962
Focus: Painter
Art movement: Abstract Expressionism
Nationality: American

Famous Morris Louis Artwork

Morris Louis Biography

Born as Morris Louis Bernstein in Baltimore, Morris Louis is well known for his large transparent stained work, often in stripes of colors, created with Bocour Magma oil-based acrylics. He was an part of the New York school of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

His study of painting began in Maryland, at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore. From 1937 to 1940 he was part of the WPA, Works Project Administration, where he did easel painting. He later became the president of the Baltimore Art Association. After meeting Jackson Pollack in 1952, he departed from his previous Cubist style to begin his journey towards Abstract Expressionism. Painting on and off, the abstract work of Pollack and Mark Rothko influenced him as he experimented more frequently.

An important event took place with a visit to the studio of Helen Frankenthaler in New York in 1953. With his friend, Kenneth Nolan, and the influence of art critic Clement Greenberg, Louis witnessed paintings that had been poured and stained onto the raw canvas in Frankenthaler’s unique style. He returned back to Washington, D.C., where he was teaching, and began creating waves of color, pouring and staining onto the canvas.

Louis’s art eventually evolved into vertical stripes of color, done through the pouring and staining method. Memorable works include “Stripes” and “Unfurled.” By the late 1950s, his work was receiving the praise of critics. With major exhibitions of his work at the Guggenheim Museum, the National Collection of the Smithsonian and the Hirshhorn Museum, he has been recognized as a major contributor to abstract art in this country after World War II.