1957-J No. 1 (PH-142), 1957
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The dramatic topography of Still’s 1957-J No. 1 suggests a monumental landscape. The surface is covered with strong black, red, and white brushstrokes, and hints of yellow-orange. Still refused to title his paintings, preferring instead to identify his work using a system of dates, numbers, and letters. He believed words could inhibit vision, and preferred for viewers be left to their own imaginings. He once said, “If [the viewer] finds in them an imagery unkind or unpleasant or evil, let him look at the state of his own soul.” Though associated with the New York School of painters, Still taught in San Francisco from 1946 to 1950 and left a deep impression on Bay Area Abstract Expressionism.

Still visited the Andersons with his wife, Patricia, on several occasions after their acquisition of 1957-J No. 1, and was pleased the painting had found a good home. In a 1976 letter to Hunk, Moo, and Putter, he wrote, “May my work bring honor and spiritual reassurance to all of you for the rest of your lives.”

-Sidney Simon, PhD ‘18