Friday, February 28, 2014

Short Post on Denver

By Charles Kessler

I guess it's pretty obvious from the dearth of recent posts that I haven't felt like writing lately. I've been seeing as much art as usual, and, if anything, I've been traveling more than usual to look at art: Boston, Denver, and recently, New Haven/Yale. So what I've decided to do for now is simply post photos of work I've seen that may be of interest, and maybe write something very brief about them. I'll start here with my January trip to Denver to see Clyfford Still's works on paper – something people didn't even know existed. Still gave the Clyfford Still Museum more than 1575 of them in addition to the 825 paintings he gave the museum – 94 percent of his entire output! (I wrote about Clyfford Still in a lot more detail here and here.)

Below is the last drawing, the last work of art, Still made.

Clyfford Still, PP-1444, January 4, 1980, pastel on paper.
Dean Sobel, the museum director, was kind enough to take me around the conservation labs and show me some of Still's works on paper. 
Paper conservation room, Clyfford Still Museum.
Painting conservation room, Clyfford Still Museum

For the most part, the paintings Still gave the museum are in excellent shape, but some are damaged, and I got a chance to see some of the ones they are working on. Here's a detail close-up of one of the most damaged paintings:

In addition to the enormous collection of Still's art, the museum has Still's complete archives – books, record albums, letters, articles he kept over the years – everything! The museum has a well-funded research center which, to quote their press release, "will foster humanities-based engagement with the Clyfford Still Museum collections, its archives and the manifold ideas they embody." So these archives will be thoroughly studied. 
Clyfford Still Museum Archives. 

I also went to the Denver Art Museum, which I wrote about before here. I spent most of my time with their extensive pre-Columbian art collection and this gallery of Northwest Coast Indian Art:
Left: Chief Johny Scow, Welcome Figure, c.1900, Kwakwaka,wakw tribe; right: a Tlingit house partition from about 1840.
The Welcome Figure once held a large copper plate in its upraised arms. Such plates signified the wealth and power of the clan, so while you were welcomed, you would also know you're dealing with a prestigious clan. And the house partition separated the chief's apartment from the rest of the clan's dwelling, forming a dramatic entrance. 

I came across a couple of good contemporary art galleries too – David B. Smith and Robischon – both near the excellent Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. So all in all a lot of good art to see in Denver and an excellent night-life too.
Larimer Street from 14th to 15th Streets in the historic LoDo district of Downtown Denver. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting on your visit to the Still Museum.
Seeing his last work moved me.
It's a miracle the museum came into being!