Born: 28 November 1912; Baltimore, United States
Died: 07 September 1962; Washington, United States
Active Years: 1948 - 1962
School or Group: Washington Color School
Genre: abstract painting
Considered one of the earliest exponents of Color Field painting, American painter Morris Louis was one of the Washington painters who formed what is known today as the Washington Color School.
From 1929 to 1933, he studied at the Maryland Institute of Fine and Applied Arts (now Maryland Institute College of Art) on a scholarship, but left shortly before completing the program. Louis worked at various odd jobs to support himself while painting and in 1935 was president of the Baltimore Artists’ Association. From 1936 to 1940, he lived in New York, period during which he met Arshile Gorky, David Alfaro Siqueiros, etc.
He returned to his native Baltimore in 1940 and taught privately. In 1948, he pioneered the use of Magna paint - a newly developed oil based acrylic paint made for him by his friends, NYC paintmakers Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden. In 1952, Louis moved to Washington, D.C., where he was somewhat apart from the New York scene, working almost in isolation. During the 1950s he and a group of artists that included Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Tom Downing, Howard Mehring and Anne Truitt were central to the development of Color Field painting.