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Clyfford Still

/Works and biography

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Jamais, May 1944
Oil on canvas, 165.2 x 82 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 153


This early work by one of the American Abstract Expressionists was exhibited in the artist’s first one-man exhibition, at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery (1946). In the introduction to the catalogue of this, Mark Rorhko wrote “For me, Still’s pictorial dramas are an extension of the Greek Persephone Myth.” It has been argued (by David Anfam) that Jamais depicts Persephone’s mother, Demeter searching for her daughter, who has been abducted to the underworld by Hades. As Goddess of Agriculture, Demeter’s quest devastates the harvest, corresponding to Still’s experience of the Dust Bowl in the American Great Plains in the 1930s.

credits: Hangar Design Group