clyfford still | museum
Detail of black, yellow, blue, and grey abstract painting
Clyfford Still, PH-424, 1950 (detail). Oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 59 3/4 in. Clyfford Still Museum, Denver, CO. © City and County of Denver / ARS, NY

Clyfford Still Museum presents virtual keynote with MoMA curator Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi

Denver, CO – February 11, 2021 – The Clyfford Still Museum (CSM) will present the virtual keynote lecture Modern Art Reframed: Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Ph.D. at 6 p.m. MST on March 4 on Zoom and YouTube Live.

Nzewi is an artist, art historian, and Steven and Lisa Tananbaum Curator in the department of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, NY. In this program, Nzewi will discuss his perspectives on telling an expansive and more inclusive story of 20th-and 21st-century art and his vision for the next chapter at MoMA.

“The new path that MoMA has set for itself offers innumerable possibilities to reinvent the wheel as we know it—the Paris to New York story of modernism—but more importantly to reflect the multiple contours of modernism, their local underpinnings as well as international aspirations,” said Nzewi. “There is no one story of 20th century modern art. Instead, there are several rivulets, shaped by sociopolitical and economic situations at both national and international levels.”

Prior to his position at MoMA, Nzewi previously served as curator of African art at the Cleveland Museum of Art and at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, NH. He holds a Ph.D. in art history from Emory University; a postgraduate diploma in museum and heritage studies from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa; and a bachelor’s in fine and applied arts from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

As an artist, Nzewi has participated in international artists’ residencies and workshops in Africa, Europe, and the United States. He has exhibited internationally and is represented in public and private collections including the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., and the Newark Museum, NJ.

“My background as an artist is important in my curatorial work. It helps me to understand or at least imagine the psychological space that birthed an artwork,” said Nzewi. “Understanding that space in my view, enables a better read of the work. It also helps one to be more honest in the interpretation of an artwork, to identify with the artist’s latent formal and conceptual struggles, and thus, to create a space of solidarity. In addition, when I make an exhibition, no matter its subject, I am always invested in providing a compelling visual experience. I approach exhibition making as a work of art.”

The free keynote lecture will include closed captioning as well as live interpretation in Spanish by the Community Language Cooperative and American Sign Language by Linguabee. Pre-registration on Zoom is strongly encouraged at clyffordstillmuseum.org.

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art by Howard Agriesti
Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art by Howard Agriesti

About the Clyfford Still Museum
Designed by Allied Works Architecture to display the revolutionary art of one of the 20th century’s greatest artists, the Clyfford Still Museum opened in November 2011 in Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District. Considered one of the most important and mysterious painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still (1904-1980) was among the first generation of abstract expressionist artists who developed a new and powerful approach to painting in the years during and immediately after World War II. The Museum’s collection represents 95% of the artist’s lifetime output. As the steward of Still’s art and legacy, the Museum’s mission is to preserve, exhibit, study, and foster engagement with its unique collections; generate outstanding exhibitions, scholarly research, educational and other cross-disciplinary programs that broaden the definition of a “single-artist” museum; and be a gathering place for the exploration of innovation and individual artistic endeavor. Connect with the Clyfford Still Museum on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or at clyffordstillmuseum.org.

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