Clyfford Still was born November 30, 1904, in Grandin, North Dakota. He attended Spokane University in Washington for a year in 1926 and again from 1931 to 1933. After graduation, he taught at Washington State College in Pullman until 1941. Still spent the summers of 1934 and 1935 at the Trask Foundation (now Yaddo) in Saratoga Springs, New York. From 1941 to 1943, he worked in defense factories in California. In 1943, his first solo show took place at the San Francisco Museum of Art, and he met Mark Rothko in Berkeley at this time. The same year, Still moved to Richmond, where he taught at the Richmond Professional Institute.
When Still was in New York in 1945, Rothko introduced him to Peggy Guggenheim, who gave him a solo exhibition at her Art of This Century gallery in early 1946. Later that year, the artist returned to San Francisco, where he taught for the next four years at the California School of Fine Arts. Solo exhibitions of his work were held at the Betty Parsons Gallery, New York, in 1947, 1950, and 1951 and at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, in 1947. In New York in 1948, Still worked with Rothko and others on developing the concept of the school that became known as the Subjects of the Artist. He resettled in San Francisco for two years before returning again to New York. A Still retrospective took place at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, in 1959. In 1961, he settled on his farm near Westminster, Maryland.
Solo exhibitions of Still’s paintings were presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1963 and at the Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York, in 1969–70. He received the Award of Merit for Painting in 1972 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, of which he became a member in 1978, and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting in 1975. Also in 1975, a permanent installation of a group of his works opened at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, gave him an exhibition in 1980. Still died June 23 of that same year in Baltimore.