Authentication

This website includes all paintings and drawings from the original print versions of the catalogues raisonnés by Diane Upright:  Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, published in hard copy by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1985; and The Drawings of Morris Louis, published in hard copy by the Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington DC, 1979. A few works that were authenticated after those publications were printed have also been included.  No paintings or drawings that appear on this site as of the original launch date of May 1, 2014 will be removed.

The process of updating the information on this website is ongoing.

The individual entry for every painting contains information organized into the following categories:

  1. TITLE
  2. DATE
  3. DIMENSIONS
  4. MEDIUM
  5. INSCRIPTION
  6. CATALOGUE NUMBER [DU NUMBER]
  7. COPYRIGHT
  8. RIGHTS
  9. COLLECTION
  10. PROVENANCE
  11. EXHIBITIONS
  12. REFERENCES
  13. REMARKS
  14. ML [MORRIS LOUIS ESTATE] NUMBER

1) TITLES

No distinction has been made between titles assigned by the artist and those assigned by his estate after his death. (See THE PRACTICE OF MORRIS LOUIS for a more detailed explanation of this issue.)

            Numerical titles—for example, Number 1-71—reflect the number assigned by the Morris Louis Estate. The transcription of these titles has been standardized, except for a very few widely exhibited paintings whose titles were well known in a different form. Previously, the transcription of the numerical titles has varied considerably as, for example, No. 4-264-26Number 4-26. (See below, 13, ML [Estate] Number, for a more detailed explanation.)

            Untitled paintings fall into two groups. Those early (pre-1954), predominantly figurative, paintings that remain untitled have been given a descriptive title by Diane Upright. This information appears in parentheses after the designation “Untitled,” as, for example, Untitled (Seated Man). Untitled paintings dating from 1954 to 1962 have no such descriptive title. 

2) DATES

The dates in this online catalogue raisonné may differ from those in previous publications. Dates were assigned by Diane Upright based upon all available reference materials and stylistic comparisons. Any significant variation from previous dating has been explained in the “Remarks.”

3) DIMENSIONS

Height precedes width. Dimensions are given in inches, followed by centimeters. Whenever possible, dimensions given are those taken at the initial stretching of a canvas. Due to the large size of most of the paintings and the flexible nature of the unsized and unprimed canvas used for most of them, dimensions may vary by at least an inch in both directions. 

4) MEDIUM

Acrylic resin (Magna) on canvas unless otherwise indicated.

5) INSCRIPTION

Unsigned unless otherwise indicated. The full wording is given for all inscriptions, whenever available. In some instances, the large size of the paintings made it impossible for owners to have the backs of canvases examined to provide exact inscription information.

6) CATALOGUE NUMBER [DU NUMBER]

Paintings are numbered consecutively from 1 through 667. This order reflects, insofar as is possible, the chronological order in which paintings were executed. Since Louis kept no records of his paintings and very rarely inscribed dates on them, however, the precise chronological order of his oeuvre cannot be determined. In the case of his three major series of paintings, the Veils, Unfurleds, and Stripes, the order of presentation in this online catalogue raisonné is based upon Diane Upright's stylistic comparisons. This is especially evident in the Veil series, which is presented in the order of five stylistic groups determined by Upright: triadic, split, monadic, vertical, and Italian veils. A more detailed discussion of the differences among these groups appears in THE EMERGENCE OF MORRIS LOUIS.

           EXPERIMENTAL PAINTINGS presents seventeen experimental paintings that were preserved by the estate for study purposes. They have been assigned their own set of numbers, X1–X17, the “X” to denote “experimental.” UNIDENTIFIED PAINTINGS presents sixteen unidentified paintings, known only from references in articles or exhibition catalogues. They have been assigned the letters A through P, rather than numbers, to differentiate them from the identified paintings.

7) COPYRIGHT

"Copyright © 2014 MICA"  unless otherwise noted.  Until publication of MorrisLouis.org, the Morris Louis Art Trust made a good faith effort to confirm copyright ownership rights of the images.  All the copyrights held by the Morris Louis Art Trust have been transferred to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).  If you believe that you hold the copyright to an image, please let us know.  We can be contacted at info@morrislouis.org.  

8) Rights Administered by the Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, All Rights Reserved

9) COLLECTION

The name and place of residence of the current owner are listed unless the owner has restricted this information. The year of acquisition is included for most of the paintings in public collections.

            [2012] next to name of current owners indicates an update of the print version of the catalogue raisonné, which was originally published in 1985. Collections updated post-2012 will be dated accordingly.

10) PROVENANCE

Former owners and dealers involved in the transfer of ownership, beginning with the earliest, are listed. Auctions are cited in this category when a transfer of ownership occurred; auction information for unsold paintings appears only under “Exhibitions.”

11) EXHIBITIONS

Exhibitions are listed chronologically by year, beginning with the earliest, and alphabetically by place within a single year. Catalogue entries include the city, museum or gallery, year, catalogue and illustration data. Circulating exhibitions are abbreviated by listing the cities, institutions, and year. Complete exhibition information can be found in EXHIBITION HISTORY.

12) REFERENCES

References are listed chronologically by year and alphabetically within a single year. These refer primarily to reproductions. “Comm.” indicates that a given work is commented upon in the text. References are cited by author’s last name and date of publication, followed by the Bibliography number in parentheses—for example, (B 164)—which indicates the number of this entry in the Bibliography, where complete information can be found.  Those references not included in the Bibliography give the author’s name, journal title, volume number, if available, month and year of publication, or book title and what facts of publication are available. Information contained under this heading is as complete as possible; however, some references taken from clippings in the Morris Louis Archives are not complete. References to such material are only as complete as the information available.

13) REMARKS

The information in this category includes explanations of titles and variations in dates or dimensions, and other facts pertaining to the history and condition of the paintings.

14) ML [ESTATE] NUMBER

All paintings in the estate of the artist were assigned numbers from 1 through 581. These paintings were authenticated by Louis’s widow when the first estate inventory was taken in 1962. On the back of each canvas she inscribed in green crayon “M Louis” followed by the estate number. All three-digit numbers were hyphenated as, for example, “5-81.” This authentication has not been included in the inscription category of this catalogue.

 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

bw black-and-white illustration
cat. catalogue
cat. no.     catalogue number
color color illustration
comm. commentary
l.i. lower left
l.r. lower right
no ill. not illustrated
p., pp. page, pages
u.l. upper left
u.r. upper right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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