Art & Architecture Fuse in Denver

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.

Michael Webb

Michael Webb

Michael grew up in London and now lives in a classic modern apartment in Los Angeles. His twin passions are architecture and travel, and he indulges both as often as he can, exploring every continent in search of material and inspiration. His travel memoir, Moving Around: a Lifetime of Wandering (ORO Books, October) recalls memorable experiences of people and places over seven decades. Michael is the author of 28 other books, most recently Architects' Houses. He has written on travel and design for The New York Times, Travel & Leisure, Virtuoso Life, Monocle, Architectural Digest and other publications
around the world.
Michael Webb

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  1. […] Visual art | New Denver museum displays the life's work of painter Clyfford StillKansas City StarIn this case the “bit on top” would include the holdings of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY, the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Still gave roughly 30 works each to the …Art & Architecture Fuse in Denverwandermelon […]

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