Clyfford Still was born on 30 November 1904 in Grandin, North Dakota. In 1926 he enrolled at The Art Students’ League of New York, but withdrew soon afterwards. He studied instead at Spokane University, Washington, from 1926 to 1933, then took up a fellowship at the Trask Foundation, Saratoga Springs, New York. In 1935 he received his master of arts at Washington State University, Pullman, where he taught until 1941. Still’s first solo exhibition was held at the San Francisco Museum of Art, California, in 1943. His second was at the Art of This Century Gallery, New York, in 1946, where he showed fully resolved, abstract works.
In New York, Still met the artists of the New York School, including Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Together with Rothko, Robert Motherwell and others, Still founded a teaching group called Subjects of the Artist. In 1952 he contributed work to the exhibition 15 Americans at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and was represented in the exhibition Modern art in the United States, which was held at the Tate Gallery, London, in 1956. Still was also represented in The new American painting which toured Europe in 1958. In 1959 a retrospective exhibition of his work was held at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. Museum exhibitions of his work were held at the San Francisco Museum of Art, California, in 1976, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1979. Still died in New Windsor, Maryland, on 23 June 1980. During the artist’s lifetime, only about 150 paintings were sold. In 1961 Still severed any connections to commercial galleries and, after his death, a large number of works was reserved for a permanent art display solely dedicated to his work. After much controversy and many difficulties, the Clyfford Still Museum opened in Denver, Colorado, in 2011.