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PRINT Summer 2001

STILL AGAINST HIMSELF: CLYFFORD STILL IN RETROSPECT

CLYFFORD STILL'S sustained disappearing act has made his achievement among the most elusive of AbEx masters. Now, as Washington, DC's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden opens a survey billed as a major “reintroduction” to the painter's oeuvre, art historian HARRY COOPER asks how the heard-but-not-seen artist's bite will compare to his bark.

HERE'S A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. Imagine a bunch of painters roughly the same age and working in the same place. After considerable struggle, each develops a distinctive style. They are celebrated by a few influential critics and start to show their work regularly. Soon they rise to the top of the art world, gathering students and followers.

Now let one of these artists begin to act oddly. He refuses invitations to exhibit; excoriates and threatens the press, museums, and universities; retreats to a remote hideout; and insists on writing his own catalogues

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