Morris Louis, a native of Baltimore, became part of a group of Washington, D.C. painters in the mid-1950s known for their use of bright, modern colors and washes of synthetic paint. Theirs was an innovative technique likely learned during a 1953 visit to the New York studio of Helen Frankenthaler, where Louis and his colleagues were exposed to Frankenthaler's method of staining her canvases with thinned-down pigments, giving a sense of soaked or stained color where medium and support were often indiscernible from each other. Louis's series of purely abstract works include the Unfurleds (1959-61), of which the present work is an example, wherein streaks of bold pigment, poured at angles to the bottom corners of the support, leave a large area of raw, unembellished canvas at center.
[André Emmerich Gallery, New York, until ca. 1963; sold ca. September 1963 to Newman]; Muriel Kallis Newman, Chicago (ca. 1963–2006; her gift to MMA)
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Morris Louis, 1912-1962: Memorial Exhibition, Paintings from 1954-1960," September–October 1963, no. 17.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection," May 21–September 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (pp. 98–99).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Abstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 17, 2007–February 3, 2008, extended to March 2, 2008, no. 57.
Robert Rosenblum. "Morris Louis at the Guggenheim Museum." Art International 7 (December 5, 1963), p. 26, pl. 6.
Michael Fried. "Some Notes on Morris Louis." Arts Magazine 38 (November 1963), p. 22, ill. p.24.
Daniel Robbins. "Morris Louis at the Juncture of Two Traditions." Quadrum 18 (1965), ill. p. 50.
Alice Hess. "Great Private Collections: A Chicago Visionary." Saturday Review 7 (October 1980), pp. 72, 75, ill.
Grace Glueck. "Met Is Given a $12 Million Art Collection." New York Times (December 10, 1980), p. B7.
Hilton Kramer. "Modernist Show Moves Met Firmly into Art of 20th Century." New York Times (May 22, 1981), p. C21.
Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "Une Donation bienvenue." Connaissance des arts no. 354 (August 1981), ill. p. 21.
Diana Loercher-Pazicky. "The Newman Bequest." Connaissance des arts no. 19 (August 1981), ill. p. 17 (color).
Theodore F. Wolff. "The Many Masks of Modern Art." Christian Science Monitor (April 13, 1982), p. 20, ill.
Diane Upright. Morris Louis, the Complete Paintings: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York, 1985, p. 224, no. 401, ill. p. 170.
William Agee. "Muriel Kallis Newman–Life Among the Moderns." Architectural Digest (December 1986), p. 70.
David Anfam inAbstract Expressionism and Other Modern Works: The Muriel Kallis Steinberg Newman Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Gary Tinterow, Lisa Mintz Messinger, and Nan Rosenthal. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 184–86, no. 57, ill. (color).