Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) acquires 21 works by Baltimore artist Morris Louis

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has acquired 21 works by Baltimore artist Morris Louis, including the landmark paintings Silver III, 1953, and Untitled 5-76, 1956, and 19 ink drawings. The works are a gift of the estate of the artist’s widow, Marcella Louis Brenner. The Louis works are among 2,185 gifts of art that have been added to the BMA’s collection as part of the ongoing In New Light Campaign, the largest philanthropic effort in the Museum’s history.

The Museum will debut one of the newly gifted paintings when it reopens its renovated and reinstalled Contemporary Wing. The BMA’s complete collection of Morris Louis works will be presented in an exhibition at the museum in fall 2013, thanks to a grant from the Morris Louis Art Trust. The grant will also support new scholarship on Louis’ work by Antonia Pocock, Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of Fine Art, New York University.

“We are deeply grateful to Marcella Brenner for this remarkable gift and for supporting an upcoming exhibition of Louis’ work at the BMA,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “These masterworks by Morris Louis, along with the thousands of other gifts of art from our many generous donors, strengthen our collection immensely, and help us explore new stories about the history of art that we can share with our visitors. That story will become all the more engaging in our renovated contemporary wing and across the museum as we reshape our galleries and the visitor experience in coming years.”

Morris Louis (1912–1962) is the best-known artist of the Washington Color School, a group of mid-20th century painters who explored the language of abstraction using new materials and a focus on color. An early and influential pioneer of Color Field painting, Louis gained renown for his innovative method of staining raw canvases with washes of pigment to create vibrant, large-scale works. Born in Baltimore and a graduate of what is now known as the Maryland Institute College of Art, Louis has a long history with the BMA, having exhibited in the museum’s annual Maryland artist exhibitions four times in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and having served on the BMA’s advisory artists’ committee. –

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