The city creates an artful homage to an icon of American Abstract Expressionism.
Clyfford Still was a giant of American Abstract Expressionism until his death in 1980, but he had a falling-out with his New York dealer and refused to exhibit or sell the bulk of his paintings. Instead, he willed them to a city that would give them a permanent home, and Denver came through with the newly completed Clyfford Still museum. From the outside, it’s easily overlooked: a ribbed concrete cube that backs up to the metallic spikes of Daniel Libeskind’s flamboyant extension to the Denver Art Museum. Inside, you realize that architect Brad Cloepfil has created his own work of art to enhance the experience of viewing Still’s huge canvases and intimate sketches. Seventy (out of 2400 in the collection) are displayed in nine interconnected rooms that are bathed in natural light. The textures and details of the building are tough yet refined. The art explodes within its sober frame, engaging visitors with an immediacy that’s rare in any museum. Still was a master of composition and color, and the power of these works is unforgettable.
While you are there, you should walk around the corner to explore the treasures of the city’s main art museum, and the current exhibition of Chinese drawings. Then head a mile north to see the Museum of Contemporary Art (at 1485 Delgany Street), another sharp-edged, unpretentious showcase, which is exhibiting “West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977” through February 19, 2012.
around the world.