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Installation view of red yellow blue
Installation view, "Red/Yellow/Blue (and Black and White)"

Still as Colorist

Clyfford Still Museum Celebrates Artist’s Connection to Color in Red/Yellow/Blue (and Black and White): Clyfford Still as Colorist

Denver, CO –November 8, 2012 – On January 25, 2013, the Clyfford Still Museum will open an exhibition that explores the significance of color in the art of Clyfford Still.

Red/Yellow/Blue (and Black and White): Clyfford Still as Colorist will present a selection of 32 major works by Still, nearly half of which have never been exhibited before. The works will be arranged throughout five distinct galleries that correspond to each of the artist’s signature hues: red, yellow, blue, black, and white. Consistent with the museum’s mission to illuminate the legacy of Clyfford Still, Red/Yellow/Blue will offer a new perspective on the centrality of color in Still’s artistic trajectory, informing the artist’s singular contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement. Curated by Clyfford Still Museum Director Dean Sobel, the exhibition will be accompanied by a robust slate of public programs, and will remain on view in the Lanny and Sharon Martin Galleries through May 12, 2013.

“As the Clyfford Still Museum continues to go deeper into the discovery of this tremendous collection, we look forward to advancing the momentum of our successful first year with an exhibition focused on the crucial role color played in the artist’s output,” said Sobel. “Among the characteristics that define Clyfford Still’s art—including dramatic textures, monumental scale, and jagged, vertical forms—perhaps the artist’s use of color contributes to a viewer’s experience of a particular painting or drawing the most.”

While all of the leading practitioners of Abstract Expressionism engaged with color at various points in their careers, many of the important masterworks of the movement— such as those by Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and key series by Willem de Kooning and Barnett Newman—are notable for their lack of strong color in  favor of the dualities of black and white. Still, too, explored the potential of limited color, but his greater interest in high-­‐key color—particularly red, yellow, and blue—is unique among the artists of his generation and highly specific to his own practice. Still’s use  of color also  informs his artistic dialogue with Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, his closest allies in the late 1940s.

The works displayed in the exhibition will be organized across five galleries, each surveying the five colors that appear most prominently in Still’s work. Each gallery will include a range of works that encompass the full spectrum of Still’s artistic development, illustrating his early transition from figurative  representations  to Abstract Expressionism. Still’s distinct applications of color are apparent in very early works, such as PH-­‐77, 1936 where both clothing and landscape are reduced to “primary” colors, as well as later abstract paintings like PH-­‐31, 1951 and PH-­‐247, 1951, which apply different color schemes to similar formal structures. Red/Yellow/Blue considers early portrait and figurative compositions in which single colors tend to pervade, such as the predominance of blues in PH-­‐296, 1935. The exhibition also includes several works that have never been exhibited, such as PH-­‐1107, 1951, in which Still applied the structure of an earlier drawing to a large-­‐scale red canvas.

Public Programs include:

Opening Lecture: Still as Colorist
Dean Sobel, director, Clyfford Still Museum Friday, January 25, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Clyfford Still Museum director—and curator of Red/Yellow/Blue (and Black and White): Still as Colorist—Dean Sobel will discuss the significance of color throughout Still’s career, the use and meaning of color in the works of other Abstract Expressionists, and how this has led contemporary artists to use pure color in more recent times.
Clyfford Still Museum Anschutz Foundation Atrium
$10 public; $7 Museum members
Museum doors open for program at 6:30 p.m. Lanny and Sharon Martin Galleries will remain open for 30 minutes following the program.


What’s the paint? Conservation Implications of Paints from the 1960s
Tom Learner, senior scientist and head of modern and contemporary art research at Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, and James Squires, associate conservator of paintings at Clyfford Still Museum
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

One of the most noticeable developments in paint production during the 20th century has been the emergence of new pigments. While this explosion of color has obvious advantages, such variety makes it more complicated to understand how the new pigments will perform due to the number of materials they incorporate. The Getty Conservation Institute has been at the center of a long-­‐term research effort to better understand the conservation implications of modern paints, studying how best to identify them on works of art; how they might alter with time; and, consequently, how best to conserve them. Learner will discuss the salient features of this research with a focus on the paints of the 1960s, and the paintings by Still and his contemporaries.

Clyfford Still Museum Associate Conservator of Paintings James Squires will join Learner and present some of the concerns and questions about pigmentation encountered while conserving the museum’s “hidden” collection that has yet to be fully revealed.
Clyfford Still Museum Anschutz Foundation Atrium
$10 public; $7 Museum members
Museum doors open for program at 6:30 p.m. Lanny and Sharon Martin Galleries will remain open for 30 minutes following the program.

Film/STILL: Real and Unreal—Does Color Make a Difference?
Howie Movshovitz, director of film education in the College of Arts and Media at the University of Colorado Denver and artistic director of the Denver Silent Film Festival Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

Film critic Howie Movshovitz will discuss color in movies, including early hand-­‐painted films before the turn of the 20th century, the experiments of Walter Ruttmann and  Oskar Fischinger in the 1920s and 1930s, the advent of various color processes, and the mature work of the great film colorists—Vincente Minnelli, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and Jacques Demy.
Denver Film Center/Colfax
$12 public; $10 Clyfford Still Museum and Denver Film Society members Tickets available beginning January 20, 2013 at denverfilm.org.

Special Exhibition Tours

Private tours of Red/Yellow/Blue will be offered during the exhibition dates of January 25th through May 12, 2013 by appointment. Maximum 30 guests. Please indicate preference of a Red/Yellow/Blue tour when scheduling. Tour fees include admission and are based on the type of group (senior, adult, or student). We require three weeks’ notice to schedule private tours, which are subject to availability.

To schedule your private tour or group visit, call 720-­354-­4877.

About The Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum was founded to promote public and scholarly understanding of the late artist’s work and legacy, through the presentation and preservation of the Clyfford Still and Patricia Still estates, donated to the City of Denver in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and totaling approximately 2,400 artworks. Considered one of the most important painters of the twentieth century, Still (1904 – 1980) was among the first generation of Abstract Expressionist artists who developed a new, powerful approach to painting in the years immediately following World War II. The Stills’ estates—now understood to contain 94 percent of the artist’s total output—as well as his extensive archive, were sealed off from the public from 1980 to 2011.

The new museum is in the heart of the city’s Civic Center Cultural Complex. For more information about the Clyfford Still Museum, please visit www.clyffordstillmuseum.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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