Notoriously fickle when it came to long-term friendships with art dealers and fellow artists, Still developed a unique relationship with the museum in the 1950s through Director Gordon M. Smith and Board President Seymour H. Knox, Jr. This relationship was initiated in 1957 with the purchase of a monumental painting, PH-49 (1954), 1954, for the museum’s collection. In 1959, Smith invited Still to organize his first large-scale survey at the museum, and granted the artist complete control over the exhibition’s content, design, and installation. Following the retrospective, an additional work by Still, PH-48 (1957-D-No. 1), 1957, entered the museum’s collection.
Convinced that the Albright-Knox would make a suitable home for a carefully chosen group of paintings, Still subsequently donated 31 works to the museum in 1964. This gift secured the museum’s place as the most significant repository of the artist’s work until 2011, with the historic founding of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver.