Identification and Creation
Object Number
Morris Louis, American (Baltimore, MD 1912 - 1962 Washington, DC)
Four-Three-Eight (Orange Column)
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Physical Descriptions
Acrylic on canvas
215.9 x 62.6 cm (85 x 24 5/8 in.)
framed: 219.1 x 65.7 x 3.8 cm (86 1/4 x 25 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.)
Morris Louis,1958; to wife Marcella Louis (later Mrs. Abner Brenner, Washington, DC), gift (through Andre Emmerich gallery); to Fogg Art Museum, 1965.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Mrs. Abner Brenner
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art
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Label Text: 32Q: 1110 Mid-Century Abstraction II (Post-Painterly Abstraction) , written 2015
Morris Louis was associated with a group of abstract painters that subsequently became known as the Washington Color School. Four-Three-Eight, from the artist’s Column Painting series, exemplifies his distinctive “veiling” and “staining” techniques. To achieve these effects, Louis poured thinned acrylic resin paint from the top of the canvas, allowing gravity to pull the paint downward as the unprimed fabric absorbed the pigment. The technique made it possible to create subtly layered hues of intense color. The vibrant stripes, organized in a vertical block, suggest the fluted surfaces of Classical columns. Influential critics of the day, including Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried, saw Louis’s work as a turning point away from gestural abstraction. In allowing gravity to shape his work, Louis proposed a model of painting in which the materials, not the artist’s gesture, acted as the primary agent of production.

Publication History

[Reproduction only], "Some Recent Acquisitions", Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions, 1965, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1966)., reproduced, p. 83

Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, 1967)

Michael Fried, Morris Louis, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1971), reproduced in color, pl. 105

Morris Louis: The Column Paintings-1960, brochure, André Emmerich Gallery (New York, NY, 1979), mentioned in text

Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, reproduced in b/w fig. 69, p. 76

Diane Upright, Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1985), no. 300, p. 217; reproduced p. 103, p. 160

Exhibition History

Paintings by Morris Louis, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 04/12/1967 - 05/24/1967

Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 10/12/1967 - 12/03/1967

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986

Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000

32Q: 1110 Mid-Century Abstraction II (Post-Painterly Abstraction), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/04/2015 - 10/07/2015

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at