CARL MORRIS (1911-1993)
Born in Yorba Linda, Calif., in 1911, Carl Morris studied at the Chicago Art Institute, as well as in Vienna and Paris, before he became director of the Spokane Art Center in Washington and, eventually, the most important painter to establish himself in Oregon. From an aesthetic perspective, he fit in with the New York School painters was counted Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, as well as the Northwest School’s Mark Tobey, among his friends and colleagues. However, Morris took his inspiration from the transcendent power of nature and created work loaded with references to the mountains, land, and sky. The Heather James selection spans from the 1960s to the ’90s, showing how his abstracted landscapes and geological formations evolved. Like many Abstract Expressionists, Morris began his career making figurative paintings; he was interested in social realism in the Works Progress Administration (WPA) spirit. His figures became more abstract in the mid-1940s, when hints of cubism surfaced in his work. By the early 1950s, as evident in his Machine paintings and his depictions of the landscape outside his house, his work became fully abstract. Morris has been included in many exhibitions at the Metropolitan, Whitney, and Guggenheim museums in New York.