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Morris Louis Bernstein (Nov. 28, 1912 - Sept. 7, 1962) known professionally as Morris Louis; American painter. During the 1950s he became one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting. While living in Washington, DC, Louis, along with Kenneth Noland and other Washington painters, formed an art movement that is known today as the Washington Color School.
Louis is often categorized in the second generation of Abstract Expressionists, but has also been placed in the Color Field artists and the Minimalists. His painting Tet, from 1958, is an example of his work with the staining method which he used for the majority of his career. Louis was a prodigy of the notable critic Clement Greenberg. Greenberg was introduced to Louis via Kenneth Noland, a friend of the artist who also lived in Washington DC. Greenberg in turn introduced Louis to galleries and to artists in New York such as Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Helen Frankenthaler. It was Frankenthaler who created the technique of staining: a process using thinned paint and gravity on an unstretched and untreated canvas.
Greenberg admired Frankenthaler’s technique because of his theories on “purism” within the arts. Greenberg believed that painting’s one characteristic which distinguished it from other art forms was its “flatness.” This quality was enhanced by the staining process. The paint actually soaked into the surface of the canvas, showing no three-dimensional qualities. Frankenthaler’s painting Mountains and Sea would stand as Louis’s primary influence in his shift from mimicry of German Expressionism to his more recognizable work with staining....
Louis reported that he thought of Frankenthaler as the bridge between Jackson Pollock and the possible. However, even more so than Frankenthaler, Louis eliminated the brush gesture, although his flat, thin pigment is at times modulated in billowing...