Morris Louis, Number 182, 1961
From the Phillips Collection:
In Number 182, the eye rests for a brief moment on the raw sienna stripe, but is quickly drawn to the adjacent orange stripe, which vies for dominance. The image is set off-center, to the right, and the shared contour of the two colors actually marks the center of the canvas. The sienna occupies the center of the pillar. These two colors are nearly identical in value, thus optically appearing on the same plane, and both stand out from their respective adjacent yellow stripes. The orange and sienna bands are flanked by different shades of greens and blues, dividing the column into three sections, separated by yellow. While the right side is rendered flat due to the hues being close in value, the left side reveals intensely bright colors that emerge and react with each other.
Because Louis painted in solitude, little is recorded of his working methods. After his death his studio was studied for clues. It appears that he poured thinned acrylic pigment down the raw canvas, which was suspended from a high wooden stretcher. It is possible that he folded and draped the canvas fabric in order to carefully control the flow of the pigment. The color would soak into the unsized and unprimed canvas, producing a stained effect; in essence, canvas and paint bonded to become one entity.