A stunningly complete photographic record makes its major-exhibition debut.
Clyfford Still & Photography January 18–April 28, 2018 Clyfford Still Museum, Denver
Denver, CO—The 25th exhibition at the Clyfford Still Museum reveals new perspectives on Clyfford Still through the fascinating, unexplored prism of the photographic medium. The diverse 70 photographs on display in Clyfford Still & Photography are accompanied by Still’s key related paintings and drawings, diary notes, a dramatic film treatment, and audio recordings of Still playing Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin on the piano. These elements combine to offer a vivid window into the force behind some of the most original American art of the twentieth century.
Visitors to Clyfford Still & Photography can compare the public persona and private life of this artist as never before. Formal portraits such as Hans Namuth’s brooding 1951 photo of Still in his New York City studio are shown alongside images of the artist in Boy Scout attire, as a beaming proud father, and posing with his piano. They can also ponder images of Still’s family farm, the stark Alberta landscape, its railroads, and the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in eastern Washington State—alongside paintings and works on paper that reflect Still’s singular sense of space, mood, and form. Images of extraordinary early works by Still that are otherwise lost to posterity are also included here for the first time. All such items are drawn from some 23,000 photos in the Clyfford Still Archives, one of the most comprehensive photographic collections held in a single location to be accumulated by any major twentieth-century artist.
While deeply rooted in technical interests (akin to his passion for automobiles) and the artist’s urge to keep meticulous documentary records, Still’s awareness of photography also had a subtle fine-art context. Still was a faculty member at the California School of Fine Arts (CSFA) in 1947 when it became home to the nation’s first department of fine-art photography, which was chaired by Ansel Adams and included such influential photographers as Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, and Minor White. Still’s youngest daughter, Sandra, is herself a skilled portrait photographer who trained with noted American photographer George Tice.
Clyfford Still & Photography is organized by David Anfam, senior consulting curator and director of the Clyfford Still Museum Research Center. “Drawing upon a treasure house of images from the artist’s Museum, this exhibition explores a multifaceted artist and his career,” notes Anfam. “It is a kind of vignette onto an entire lifetime of achievement.”
PARTNER EXHIBITION AND PROGRAMS
Clyfford Still & Photography is presented in collaboration with Month of Photography Denver, a biennial celebration at venues throughout the city. Additional photographs from the Clyfford Still Archives are also on view— juxtaposted with reproductions of paintings by Still—at the neighboring Colorado Photographic Arts Center (1070 Bannock Street) as part of its exhibition, Inspiration | Expression, on view February 16 through April 20, 2019.
A panel discussion with photographers featured in Inspiration | Expression takes place at the Clyfford Still Museum Thursday, April 4, 6–8 p.m. Kimberly Roberts of the Denver Art Museum moderates a conversation with abstract photographers Brenda Biondo, Carol Golemboski, Danae Falliers, Brea Souders, and Philip V. Augustin. The event is $5 for members of the Clyfford Still Museum and the Colorado Photographic Arts Center / $10 non-members. Registration is required.
Two-venue Double Exposure Tours are offered free of charge on Wednesday, February 20, 2:30–3:45 and Friday, March 15, 6–7:15 p.m. Tours begin at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center located at 1070 Bannock St. and end at the Clyfford Still Museum, a walking distance of 0.2 miles. Advance registration is required via clyffordstillmuseum.org.
The Museum’s One Painting at a Time slow-looking series features CPAC director Samantha Johnston on Tuesday, February 26 and CSM director Dean Sobel on Tuesday, March 26. Both events take place at 1 p.m. and are free with advance registration via clyffordstillmuseum.org.
Clyfford Still & Photography is surrounded by a new display of the permanent collection installed throughout the Lanny and Sharon Martin Galleries at the Museum. Spanning the artist’s 60-year career, this presentation features approximately 35 paintings, 35 works on paper, and a sculpture by Still. The mostly chronological narrative begins in the 1920s with traditional landscape subjects and Depression-era figure studies that transform into quasi-abstractions. These culminate with Still’s groundbreaking wartime abstractions and monumental late paintings that show the artist at the height of his powers.
Clyfford Still & Photography is the Museum’s 25th exhibition since opening in the fall of 2011. The Museum has also created seven full-length publications; organized three national symposia; co-produced an hour-long documentary film; collaborated with artists including Matthew Barney, Mark Bradford, Roni Horn, and Julian Schnabel; presented keynotes by Michael Kimmelman, Jerry Saltz, and Roberta Smith; built an innovative free school visit program; and released an original podcast featuring Still’s youngest daughter, Sandra Still Campbell. The Museum has exhibited 859 different works of art by Clyfford Still to date. Approximately 2,500 works in Denver’s collection remain to be exhibited.
ABOUT THE CLYFFORD STILL MUSEUM
A breathtaking art museum dedicated to the enigmatic life and revolutionary art of a modern master, the Clyfford Still Museum opened in November of 2011. Considered one of the most important—yet mysterious—painters of the 20th century, Clyfford Still (1904–80) was among the first generation of abstract expressionist artists who developed a new, forceful approach to painting in the years during and immediately after World War II. The Los Angeles Times calls the Museum “a marvelous model for what a single-artist museum can be.” Smithsonian Magazine describes the Museum as “among the best art museum experiences anywhere.” The Museum was designed by Allied Works Architecture, which received the 2013 Design Award, 2012 Honor Award, and 2012 Craftsmanship Award from regional chapters of the American Institute of Architects for the project.