"The effect conveys a sense not only of color as somehow, disembodied, and therefore more purely optical, but also of color as a thing that opens and expands the picture plane. The suppression of the difference between painted and unpainted surfaces causes pictorial space to leak through-or rather; to seem about to leak through."
Belonging to his series of Stripe paintings, Number 8 is a magnificent example of Morris Louis's originality and complexity as an artist. An apotheosis and culmination of his earlier work, Number 8, executed in 1962, is not only of the great Color Field paintings, it also points to Louis as a prominent influence on the minimalist movement. Concentrating on the purity of color and form, as an artist he was constantly discovering new ways to maintain the separate identities of color and space, as evident in this significant example.
A solitary, intensely self-critical man, Louis had by the early 1950s arrived at modest success as a painter and teacher in Washington D.C. Through his friendships with painter Kenneth Noland and art critic Clement Greenberg, he became acquainted with the work of Jackson Pollock and Helen Frankenthaler, whose influence on his working methods and conception of painting was deeply significant. Working in a variety of series, that included the dramatic pictorial solution of the Unfurleds (1960-61) and the colorful, controlled and refined Stripe paintings (1961-62) Louis produced effects of incredible delicacy and subtlety.
Using a linear stain technique, which had been perfected over time, Louis's series of Stripe paintings practiced positioning parallel bands of color against a pure white field to explore both the vibrant rhythm and intensity of color. In Number 8 Louis creates successive waves of pigment that are thinly poured onto the canvas, which create a stain of color that is visually continuous. The result is a stream of colors that produce a harmonious and pleasurable optical experience.