Clyfford Still Museum Opens

Last night my partner and I went to the opening of the Clyfford Still Museum here in Denver.  WOW!  It is amazing!

The inaugural exhibit it thoughtfully curated – offering a chronological view of his work spanning his career. I think, for me what struck me the most was seeing the evolution of the work. The show clearly presents a progression beginning with landscapes and portraits, quickly leading us into his exploration of abstraction and ultimately his readily identifiable expressionist pieces.

I was anticipating the darker, heavier pieces that represented his agrarian roots during the depression but didn’t anticipate the lighter, more cheerful works. These treasures, hidden for so many years, are a bit like giants awaking from their slumber – still stretching out and beginning to tell their stories.

The rooms are perfectly proportioned and sequenced to showcase his art with carefully constructed vantage points revealing from one gallery, the next.  The honeycomb ceiling allows natural light to permeate the concrete building, providing ideal viewing conditions while louvers protect the artwork from the damaging sun.  The two-story building, designed by Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture is refined – it is an elegant solution to display the work and to house art being stored, archived & researched.


Clyfford Still’s work was marked by expressive brush work, and abstracted forms – the blending of color, texture and shape to create something entirely new. His shift away from figurative and surrealist styles in the late 30’s and early 40’s happened nearly a decade before other artists including Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman began the pursuit of what is now known as Abstract Expressionism. His estate, along with that of his wife, has been left to the city and will be maintained by the museum – it represents the bulk(94%) of Still’s life work – some 2400 paintings, works on paper and sculptures.

At the Clyfford Still Opening

At the Clyfford Still Opening

Use your Museum Membership

Even if you have have just a little bit of time to spare, go ahead and use your membership(s). Visiting a museum doesn’t have to be an all day event – in the past week I visited the Denver Art museum once as part of a work project and then I went back a second time by myself, just to look at 2-3 pieces.

Instead of planning your museum excursions to be ‘do-it-all, see-it-all’ outings, try popping in once in a while and looking at just one exhibit or even just a room.

I know we all run around from place to place and meeting to meeting with less and less time to ourselves. Allow the museums to offer you a break, a moment to pause and enjoy.

David Schnell 'Aussicht', 2005 at Denver Art Museum

Fred Sandback at MCA Denver

“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.” Michelangelo

The Sandback show at MCA Denver is terrific!

His installations of thread barely create structure but capture the “apparitions” of monumental planes and forms throughout the space.  The pieces slice through the rooms, highlighting the building itself and then go on to challenge the viewers’ perceptions by redefining – breaking away from the physical walls and illustrating planes of nothingness that exist concurrently.

When I first saw the show, I thought it seemed solemn and a bit serious – it’s so structured, so minimal and so devoid of color.  If you felt this way, then I would definitely encourage you to see it again. It is uplifting and hopeful: the optimistic gestures allow the viewer to see the museum as constructed and then offer a glimpse of what could be…of something more. It makes me happy.

My new print series

I am very excited to introduce my first print series – these are 3 color photopolymer etchings with embossing.

Kent & Vicki Logan – Focused Collecting

Last Saturday, I got to go with a dozen other members of the new Clyfford Still Museum on a tour of the Kent & Vicki Logan’s art collection…what a treat!  It was a terrific day – the weather up in the mountains was perfect, the group fun and interesting and the art…amazing!!

To be sure, the Logans have a lot of great contemporary art, but for me the key to the success of their collection is really that they personally enjoy the works they acquire and that they are disciplined in their focus.

The Logans are kind and generous – their collection has been gifted to SFMOMA and the Denver Art Museum and they frequently invite the museums and art schools to access the works for exhibitions and study. In 2 decades they have amassed a thousand pieces of contemporary art that represent the best examples from artists working in the past 30-40 years that have influenced the worldwide movement of art.    They have a decidely modern aesthetic, interest in Asian contemporary art and frequently a leaning for pop and shock.

It was exciting to see the works & especially to see the Logans living with the art in their home: Juan Munoz in the entrance, Warhol and Hirst in the living room, Richter in the dining room, Eliasson in the kitchen, Basquiat in the hallway, Marilyn Minter in the bedroom, Yue Minjun, Neo Rauch, Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith and on and on.

As we passed through the rooms of their home, I began to wonder if there were artists whose works they thought maybe were missing or artwork that they’d like to acquire if only their parameters were different. As a group we came up with a few – either they didn ‘t quite work with their aesthetic, or the Logans didn’t feel they influenced their peers or they were outside the contemporary period of their focus.

All week long I have found myself reflecting on the collection and the parameters they set for themselves: They only buy art that they like; they buy art of the times (1960s-present day) and they buy art from artists that are addressing issues that confront us as a society and that are influencing the movement of art. They resist the temptation to get pieces just because someone else thinks they should & they eschew pieces that they like when they don’t work in the context of their collection.

Clyfford Still Museum opens in November

Last week, I got to go on a hard hat tour of the new Clyfford Still museum. It is coming into the home stretch, opening here in Denver in just 2 short months. Really, this is great for the city and great for the art world. The museum opening and the unveiling of Still’s body of work is really the most important art event happening in the world this year.