Morris Louis worked through several artistic stages, experimenting with a new acrylic paint that would be instrumental in defining his mature style. How did Louis’s materials impact his art?

The best resource I’ve found on Morris Louis is At that site, Louis’s work is divided into seven periods with what seems like exhaustive examples of his work:

Above images courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Which phase do you like best? Why?

  • How are each of the phases similar to each other? How are they different? Do they build on each other?

  • Do his early and abstract expressionists paintings have similarities to others’ works? Whose?

  • Louis was influenced by Helen Frankenthaler. What are the similarities and differences between their paintings?

  • Clement Greenberg, an art critic, also influenced Louis. Greenberg advocated flatness, complete abstraction and removal of the artist’s hand. How do Louis’s paintings embody those ideas?

  • What colors and shapes do you see? Do they enhance each other?

  • Louis felt the “Unfurled” paintings were his best. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  • How are “Unfurled” different from his other work?

  • Where are the most important objects placed in most paintings? Did Louis always follow this trend?

  • Looking at Louis’s “Unfurled” paintings, where is your eye naturally drawn, to the negative space in the center or to the colorful sections on the sides?

  • Is Louis best described as a Color Field Artist, an Abstract Expressionist, a Minimalist or an Action Painter? Why?