Morris Louis was born and educated in Baltimore. The seminal event in his life was a visit to the studio of Helen Frankenthaler in 1953, and almost immediately he adopted her method of painting which is to stain canvas rather than paint on it.
Louis began his experiments with this technique by carefully pouring paint. He used thin washes of acrylic paint to create translucent curtains of color on the canvas, sometimes in parallel rows, sometimes overlapping so that the effect is of an ink wash or a dye. The precedent is Jackson Pollock's poured works of the late 1940's. But in Pollock, the poured line and planes are textured and material and stay on top of the canvas, whereas in a Louis, the area of color fuses with the flat canvas.
In a Louis painting, there is no reference to nature, to architecture or to a human presence. They are non-referential abstract works, fundamentally expressive and extremely decorative.