The Clyfford Still Museum announced a new partnership with the Denver Art Museum (DAM) this morning. Shade: Clyfford Still / Mark Bradford includes a DAM exhibition of new paintings by renowned contemporary American artist Mark Bradford, who deeply admires Clyfford Still’s art, as well as a unique presentation of Still’s work curated by Bradford at CSM. Bradford was honored in 2014 with the U.S. Department of State’s Medal of Arts and notably was recently named as the U.S. representative at the 2017 Venice Biennale. A traveling exhibition organized by Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Shade opened in Buffalo on May 25 and will be on view to Denver audiences at DAM and CSM April 9–July 16, 2017.
Featured in CSM’s two largest galleries, Bradford’s curation of Still’s work will feature approximately fifteen works that prominently incorporate black pigments, spanning five decades. The selection reveals Bradford’s appreciation for Still’s frequent use of black and for Still’s many evocative statements about the color, including, “Black was never a color of death and terror for me. I think of it as warm and generative.” The presentation at CSM continues the museum’s Artists Select program, which invites contemporary artists to curate works from the museum’s holdings to explore Still’s legacy and the inspiration each draws from Still’s work. This exhibition will be the third installment of the series, which began in 2015 with an exhibition curated by visual artist and composer Mark Mothersbaugh, and continues in early 2017 with an exhibition curated by contemporary artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel.
The DAM’s exhibition will be an expanded presentation of the Albright-Knox’s, and will feature paintings that Bradford recently created, presented alongside related canvases by Clyfford Still. To create a body of work specifically for the Albright-Knox presentation, Bradford built on his interest in crafting paintings that explore the underpinnings of expressionistic abstraction in the 21st century. He drew inspiration from the large-scale and tactile surfaces of Still’s work, including Still’s use of black, brown, and other somber colors that Bradford employed for both their symbolic and expressive qualities.
In comparing his studio process with Still’s, Bradford said, “My paintings are made up of tearing. To me it represents a process that is more of a reality than laying down a perfect line of paint. It’s raw and violent but it still comes together. And it’s not just a tearing that you see in Still’s paintings, it’s a collision of colors. There aren’t smooth transitions.” Visitors to both DAM and CSM’s presentations of Shade will see Bradford’s take on abstractions of class, culture, race, and gender. Social activism and art will be explored further through programming at both museums, inspired by Bradford’s Art + Practice Foundation, which he founded with philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton and social activist Allan DiCastro. Art + Practice aims to empower foster youth and strengthen communities through contemporary art. The Foundation also encourages life-skills training through educational and cultural experiences.
A full press release about this partnership is available in the Museum’s press room.