- David Anfam
(b Grandin, ND, Nov 30, 1904; d Baltimore, MD, June 23, 1980).
American painter. His best-known work is associated with Abstract Expressionism, although he had established the basis for a strongly original style and outlook before any contact with New York art circles. His early life was divided between Washington state, where he was educated, and a prairie homestead in southern Alberta, Canada. Domestic tensions and the vicissitudes of farm life added an embattled note to his rugged though sensitive intellect. He was also deeply influenced by the vast flatness of the Canadian landscape, which became more desolate during an extended period of drought and depression after 1917. Early paintings such as the Row of Grain Elevators (1929; Washington, DC, Smithsonian Amer. A. Mus.) depict the agricultural environment of the prairies in a vigorous, somewhat crude manner reminiscent of Regionalism (see Regionalism). Yet they also stress the symbolic polarities that the artist described as the ‘vertical necessity of life’ rising against the horizontal, so that the anatomy of the human figure remained a seminal concern. Among other early stylistic traits were the reduction of form to essentials, compositions often structured around a central mass and the device of animating sombre colour schemes with small bright accents. Throughout his career, Still produced many works on paper....